Our guest blogger is Elon Green, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.
Last week, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) claimed that “no Republicans” were discussing shutting down the federal government. On Friday, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus took the same line on Fox News: “I know that the Republicans are not talking about a public shutdown.” In fact, however, there are nearly a dozen GOPers openly considering a shutdown, including former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who yesterday told ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes that such an extreme, damaging measure is “what we need,” and that it’s “an option I think Republicans have to consider.”
Much like his position on gays rights, Pawlenty’s stance on the cost of a government shutdown has evolved — in a decidedly less humane direction on both counts. In June 2005, on the eve of Minnesota’s first and only government shutdown, Pawlenty noted that such a shutdown would be painful:
“Minnesotans need to hear about and understand the real human impacts if state government shuts down. State parks will close, rest areas will be boarded up, and new drivers licenses won’t be issued. More than 15,000 state employees — hardworking, dedicated people — will essentially be locked out of their jobs.”
“Anyone who considers the negative impacts of a shutdown should see it as a reason to seriously get back to the negotiating table.”
“June is halfway over,” Pawlenty said at the time. “Minnesotans are heading to the cabin and taking family vacations. They expect their elected officials to show leadership and get the job done without wreaking havoc on state employees and government services. I’m willing to make sure that we take care of government’s core functions, but the cost and impact of a shutdown would be felt far into the future.”
Ultimately, thousands of Minnesotans were left without work, thanks to what Pawlenty called the “naked cynicism” of his political opponents. More recently, however, the aspiring nominee for President has evolved, yet again, by suggesting that the 2005 shutdown should have lasted longer because it showed Democrats he was serious.