Friday, April 08, 2011

Shutdown of what, exactly?

Today's national news is being dominated by talk of an impending shutdown of the federal government.

Much has been made of the list of services which presumably might be unavailable to Americans as early as this weekend.

But, before you get too concerned about the shutdown, consider this:

What did the federal government do for you last weekend that you're worried about losing this weekend?

OK, so we're being a little snarky and cynical. But, here's why that's actually an important question.

For both sides of the political debate, the budget showdown in Washington seems to be more about posturing and messaging for the 2012 election than anything else.

If most people nationwide can identify certain things right off-the-bat that make them worry about the shutdown, then that's essentially a public relations victory for President Obama and Democrats in Congress because it means that people are not worried about the size of government. Democrats are looking to blame Republicans for a failure of leadership and for proposing Draconian budget cuts that would be harmful. They are also appealing to their core constituencies to preserve funding for certain targeted programs.

On the other hand, if there's nothing most people find immediately troubling about the shutdown, or if most people actually think shutting down the government for a little while might be a good idea, then that's essentially a victory for House Republicans. They are trying to convince people that the overall fiscal health of the country is what's at stake and that government is too large, while also appealing to their core constituencies to cut funding for certain targeted programs.

The stakes are high for both sides. But the danger here is that people will be most interested in having a government that runs well, and they will be left with an overall feeling that it's Washington in general that has failed them. That's bad news for both parties trying to garner support in 2012. Take, for example, the decline in ticket sales that sometimes follows lockouts of professional sports leagues.

Is this what will happen to incumbents in 2012? Or, will one side clearly win the current public relations battle? We will probably start to get a good idea as early as next week - assuming there is no last-minute deal down in D.C.

1 comment:

  1. Should have shut down the White House and Capital Hill.....that is change I COULD BELIEVE IN !!!!!!!!


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