Earlier today, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared on Fox News with 9/11-truther Andrew Napolitano. With funding for the federal government set to run out this weekend, Napolitano asked Paul if it was worth continuing to provide funding or if we should just “go on without the federal government for a little while?” Paul agreed, arguing that he didn’t think a government shutdown would hurt “one bit”:
NAPOLITANO: Would it be good fiscally and philosophically if the government did shut down for a few weeks and the American people could see life would go on without the federal government for a little while?
PAUL: I don’t think it would hurt one bit. If an individual can’t pay their rent on time, they might ask their landholder to say “look, I’ll be there next week.” They adjust. The owner and the renter adjust. This is the way the government should adjust. If they can’t pay their bills, wait. But they are afraid the world would panic and the world would come to an end. But it would be an admission that we’re in big trouble. But we are in big trouble. But to deny it and to continue to spend and continue to inflate and waiting for the bond bubble to burst, that doesn’t make sense to me.
Rather than simply speculate whether Paul is correct or not, we have a recent historical occurrence to look to for guidance: the federal government shutdown of 1995. During the nearly four-week shutdown, Social Security checks were not mailed, nor were Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements sent out. All non-essential government employees were sent home without pay. And according to a Center for American Progress report entitled “The Big Freeze”, the entire ordeal “cost the American taxpayer over $800 million and rattled the confidence of international investors in U.S. government bonds.”
The architect of that debacle, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, remains unperturbed about the damage caused during the shutdown. Appearing on Fox News this morning, Gingrich declared that the shutdown was “absolutely” worth the risks to the country because it helped Republicans win reelection:
HOST: Taking a look back and seeing what happened back in 1995, would say that it was worth it? It was worth the risk, not only to the country—
HOST: Absolutely? Why is that?
GINGRICH: Absolutely. For two reasons. First of all, as Republicans, no Republican majority in the House had been reelected since 1928, but when we stood firm against liberals and we said were prepared to really fight, all of our base said, you know, these folks are different, they’re not just normal politicians, they don’t just go to Washington to sell out. And we became the first House majority to be reelected since 1928.
These comments from Paul and Gingrich echo the demands being pushed by the Shutdown Caucus – a group of seven (and growing) GOPers pushing to shut down the federal government next year.