Republican pollster Dick Morris told conservative political activists that newly elected Republicans should shut down the government next year. Morris said the party must elect lawmakers who will stand up and say "No" to President Obama's requests for more government spending and predicted a repeat of how Republicans forced a shutdown under President Clinton after they won control of Congress.
"There's going to be a government shutdown, just like in '95 and '96 but we're going to win it this time and I'll be fightin' on your side," Morris said at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation Conference on Friday in Washington.
Now, that's not exactly campaign trail material, but it's a fascinating glimpse into what Republicans may put into action should they win back control of Congress. Morris' suggestions, memes and talking points frequently end up in GOP campaign materials, so we'll be keeping a close eye on this one to see if Republicans will back up his promise for a government shutdown.
It's also quite interesting given that Morris was a Clinton campaign operative in 1995 and 1996 when the Republicans forced a showdown over government spending. (A gamble which, of course, didn't help them much politically. Clinton was able to win reelection in part by running against the GOP's obstruction.)
Morris sounded a similar note in April, suggesting in a speech the Republicans should force a shutdown over health care funding.
He explains his thinking a bit in this April piece:
Such a defiant stand, in the face of withering criticism from the media, economists, and the Federal Reserve, can only be made by hardy souls. Indeed, such a stance by a Republican Congress will lead to exactly the same sort of government shutdown - when Obama vetoes the budget - as discredited the GOP in 1995-1996 and led to Clinton's re-election.
But history will not repeat itself. The Republicans will win this confrontation with the White House. Everybody in America knows that Obama has increased spending out of all proportion. Everyone knows that higher taxes would be devastating. And the Republicans must capitalize on these convictions so deeply held by the vast majority of voters to prevail in the coming deficit wars.
During his AFP speech, Morris also offered a hat tip to the tea party movement. "We're going to be pressuring the people who we helped elect to oppose big spending, and we will be telling them you do not tread on us," Morris said.