Gingrich: History Shows Shutdowns Aren't Catastrophic

Saturday, 05 Oct 2013 02:57 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The government shutdown has led to a lot of "hyperbole and hysteria," writes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a new opinion piece, but the "facts are against the whiners, complainers and hysteria-mongers."

Gingrich's article, appearing in The Financial Times, points out that there have been numerous government shutdowns in the past, and while pressure is on the Republicans to surrender their view, and reopen the government, their demands reflect "ignorance" of history.

It's common for government's to shut down because of conflict between the different branches, said Gingrich, who was House Speaker during two shutdowns in 1995-96 while former President Bill Clinton was in office.

But there were plenty of shutdowns before that, Gingrich said, including 12 presided over by Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill alone while dealing with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Gingrich pointed out.

"No one in the O’Neill era saw shutdowns as catastrophic," said Gingrich. "They were irritating, complicated and frustrating, but also part of the legislative process.

The U.S. government has power struggles, said Gingrich, because of the way the founding fathers set up offices to keep America from falling under a dictatorship.

"Our founding fathers wanted tension between the legislative and executive branches," said Gingrich. "They understood the parliamentary system and rejected it as prone to dominance by the king. They divided power to protect liberty."

However, the CNN Crossfire host complained, the modern media has no historic memory.

"It cannot place John Boehner, the current Speaker, within the context of Speaker O’Neill’s 12 government shutdowns because it has never heard of them and does not want to," said Gingrich.

And while House Republicans oppose Obama, feeling obligated because they won the 2010 and 2012 elections that way, "Mr. Obama and his supporters like to claim the presidential election of 2012 settled everything. That is a profoundly un-American view."

And in a divided government, the sides are obligated to negotiate, and unless Obama agrees, "the House Republicans will have no choice: using the power of the purse to force negotiation is the heart of the Constitution’s division of power."

But the crisis will pass, he said, when Obama agrees to negotiate.

Gingrich's Financial Times piece is one of several he's used to comment on the shutdown, reports Politico.

The former 2012 presidential candidate has also been speaking on The Tonight Show, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club,” in Time Magazine, and in other places to share the lessons he learned in the 1990s.

Related:

History Lesson: Why Investors Shouldn't Fear a Government Shutdown


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