Is the Debt Ceiling Showdown REALLY a Repeat of Gingrich/Clinton?

July 25, 2011

There are some on the right - Mitch McConnell chief amongst them - who fear that the GOP's stance on principle against debt and taxes will backlash against them politically. They are willing to compromise so they appear to be "reasonable," and willing to work with the Democrats, as they capitulate to the further destruction of the American economy and to Obama's "Fundamental Transformation" of who and what we are as a nation.

They are pointing to the Gingrich/Clinton Showdown of late 1995 and early 1996 and the Government Shutdown, which some feel had a detrimental effect on the GOP’s popularity and fortunes. But their memories are faulty and their analysis is flawed! Let's analyze the fallout from that showdown.

Our longest stretch without a debt limit increase was from 1996 to 2001. Our 1996 Deficit was $107 Billion and after the showdown we had surpluses till 9/11! In 2000 we had a $236 Billion surplus!

Clinton’s popularity suffered during the shutdown. The press then hammered Gingrich as a “crybaby,” which his own persona fostered. Gingrich’s personal popularity fell, but the GOP held the House for another 10 years till 2006, and the Senate remained in GOP hands all that time except 2000 to 2002. And we elected Bush in 2000.

Some folks blame Clinton’s re-election on Gingrich’s showdown at the end of 95 and beginning of 96… but Dole stunk as a candidate. He was the first McCain! Dole's defeat was because of Dole.

In all, the Gingrich/Clinton showdown was extremely good for the country, and not bad for the GOP either. Gingrich himself denounces the decision not to blink, because he personally suffered a popularity drop... but his own issues contributed to that loss of popularity, not just the showdown with Clinton. Today he's barely moving the needle of presidential candidate popularity... and may run one of the shortest presidential campaigns in history. Conservatives have abandoned him because he abandoned them. Remember his Global Warming Pow-Wow with Pelosi? He's gone squishy on a number of Conservative issues!

Some important differences between 1996 and today:

Our national debt in 1996 was under $4 Trillion. Today it’s $14 Trillion.

Our deficit was $107 Billion. Today it’s $1.5 TRILLION+.

Spending in 1996 was under $1.9 Trillion. Today it’s $3.4 Trillion.

In 1996, the American People were not sitting on the edge of economic Armageddon. In fact, the economy was doing well and was about to rev up. The sleeping giant of American Conservatism was still asleep. While restraint of government growth was important even then... it was not on the radar of the average-Joe American at the time.

Today, we are experiencing the true “Worst economy since the Great Depression” and a majority of people understand it’s Obama’s policies that have worsened and extended our economic woes. Under 4 years of Pelosi/Reid we saw a trillion dollar increase in annual spending. And all of that was deficit spending (borrowed money)! We tripled the deficit. We more than doubled the debt. In 2006 our National Debt was $6 Trillion, and that was after Bush was roundly and rightly criticized for increasing it by 50% from $4 Trillion to $6 Trillion over his first 6 years… but he had the dot-com bubble, 9/11 and two wars to contend with. Pelosi/Reid took it from $6 Trillion to $14 Trillion in 4 short years.

The American people are beginning to understand this! They are telling Congress to cut, cap & balance. They’re telling Congress that they overspend. They’re saying NO to Debt and Taxes!

There is no reason to allow political fear to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, either in the budget battle or in the 2012 elections. We are RIGHT. We must STAND for right. We must stand on principles and let the chips fall where they may politically. To the surprise of some, and the delight of most… those chips will fall in the direction of the Conservative Movement!

Copyright ©2011 Doug Edelman