WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Republicans are taking it on the chin in the court of public opinion during the government shutdown, but how much of that blame is really deserved? One pundit says pointing the finger at Republicans has become the norm for Americans, fair or not.
A survey released by the Washington Post-ABC said disapproval of Republicans was measured at 70 percent, up from 63 percent a week earlier. Disapproval of President Barack Obama’s role was statistically unchanged at 51 percent.
Most Democrats and many Republicans have assumed the GOP will pay a heavier price for a shutdown than the Democrats, since that was the case in 1996.
Larry Sabato, author of the forthcoming book “The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy,” believes the GOP is taking the brunt of the blame because the “public has become conditioned to blaming Republicans for obstruction.”
“Older Americans remember that Speaker Newt Gingrich and his GOP troops led the way to a long shutdown in 1995-96, and everyone has watched as congressional Republicans have tried to stymie President Obama since they took control of the House in 2011,” Sabato told CBSDC.
The government shutdown has entered its second week with seemingly no end in sight. Obama has refused to negotiate with Republicans over reopening the government or raising the debt limit, while House Speaker John Boehner and his party want to defund and delay “Obamacare,” the president’s signature health care overhaul law.
“I want to have a conversation. I’m not drawing lines in the sand. It is time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences,” Boehner said. “There’s no boundaries here. There’s nothing on the table, there’s nothing off the table.”
Sabato said there could be “electoral hell to pay” if this bickering between the parties leads to a recession.
“[A] large majority of people appear to see this shutdown as an embarrassment for the U.S. at home and abroad. It doesn’t help Obama, for sure, but mainly it feeds the public’s long-term disgust with Congress,” Sabato told CBSDC. “While voters may well back their individual member of Congress, they see the group as hopelessly incompetent and corrupt.”
Some Republicans are even disputing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s statement that the country faces the possibility of defaulting on its debts if the borrowing limit is not raised.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kans, claimed Lew’s assertion was “simply false” because the government still collects revenues even without raising the limit.
In Sunday television appearances, Lew warned that on Oct. 17, he will exhaust the bookkeeping maneuvers he has been using to keep borrowing. He said the U.S. must increase its debt ceiling by then or face the possibility of defaulting on its debts, a move that would shake the global economy and financial markets.
“When we start to get to the place where the borrowing capacity is constrained for the federal government, there are real risks to the economy,” Pompeo told the Wichita Rotary Club. “I do not for one second diminish how real those are. But, having said that, doing nothing guarantees we will default on our debt.”
Despite the showdown over the shutdown, Sabato stated that it’s too early to say if this would have an impact on the 2014 midterm elections, citing how Syria is seemingly not an issue at the forefront at the moment for Obama.
“Just weeks ago, most political analysts were speculating about the effect of the Syria crisis on the 2014 election,” Sabato said. “Now, it’s gone away at least for the moment, and no one mentions it. Politics is a rapidly changing business.”
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