Who’s Afraid of a Government Shutdown?

For some time, the Democrats have been plotting to shut down the federal government–well, not really a shutdown, but the sort of temporary suspension of nonessential activities that the press calls a shutdown–in hopes that the public will blame the Republicans, as happened in 1995. Many observers, however, have argued that times are different now, and most voters don’t want the GOP to be bullied into going along with another year of bloated federal spending.
Today’s Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters offers considerable support for the latter view. Rasmussen finds that 58 percent of voters would rather “have a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spending to cut” than “avoid a government shutdown by authorizing spending at the same levels as last year.” That figure includes 59 percent of non-affiliated voters.
This preference reflects the fact that a broad consensus of voters wants federal spending cut, not increased:

In general, just 27% of all voters think Congress should now authorize spending for 2011 at the same levels as last year. Six percent (6%) want more government spending, but 61% say Congress should authorize less spending that there was the year before.

It is striking that there has never been a year in the past half-century when federal spending hasn’t increased, yet in the present fiscal crisis, that course is favored by a mere 6 percent of voters. Times have indeed changed, and Congressional Republicans should stand firm.

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