The last time Republicans recaptured control of Congress from Democrats, they shut down the federal government after President Clinton rebuffed their efforts to impose deep cuts to education spending and Medicare. Cooler heads narrowly prevailed in preventing the U.S. from defaulting on its debt in 1995 and 1996 — which would have had devastating consequence, including a worldwide economic catastrophe — but the episode ultimately cost American taxpayers more than $800 million and shook international confidence in U.S. government bonds.
Rather than seeking to avoid a repeat, many in the GOP are calling for a repeat government shutdown now that they have regained the reins of power. Those Republicans who have expressly called for a shutdown include Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Rep.-elect Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), and Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-UT). Even Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the second-highest ranking House Republican, is open to a government shutdown.
The newest member of the “Shutdown Caucus” is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who is best known for fear-mongering about “terror babies” and saying that hate crimes legislation would lead to necrophilia. ThinkProgress spoke to Gohmert at a “November Speaks” rally in Washington D.C. yesterday. Gohmert told us that “we owe” it to “our children and our grandchildren” to shut down the government:
GOHMERT: One thing we know, and I’ve learned this in college and it’s absolutely true, the old adage is “democracy ensures people are governed no better than they deserve.” For too long, it breaks my heart, but America deserved what we got. What we’re seeing now is Americans saying, “You know what, we deserve better,” and when they take that stand they are going to get it.
TP: So you don’t think it would take a shutdown for that lesson to be learned?
GOHMERT: Listen, if it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but if we don’t stop the runaway spending — even if it means showing how serious we are — okay, government is going to have to shut down until you runaway-spending people get it under control. And if you can’t get it under control, then we just stop government until you realize, you know, yes we can.