While the prospect of a government shutdown has been averted for the moment, Republicans have been trying to convince Americans that “there’s been no talk about shutting the government down on our side” — despite the fact that plenty of prominent GOPers have said the exact opposite. Asked about this doublespeak today on ABC News’ Topline, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said, “There’s nothing wrong with a government shutdown.” He even noted that he’s been “an advocate for it for six, seven months now”:
HOST: What’s your take on this? Is this something that Republicans should really fear? … What’s wrong with a government shutdown?
STEELE: Well I think there’s — I personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with a government shutdown. I’ve been an advocate for it for six, seven months now. For the simple reason that it is the shocker. It is the reality check that the spenders need to have, that those who are trying to chart a different course need to have.
Indeed, Steele has been unafraid to call for shutting down the government for some time.
But he’s very wrong in saying “there’s noting wrong” with a shutdown. During a shutdown, many health care, veterans, passport, and other services cease to function, while law enforcement work can be hampered, and people may have trouble receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits. Moreover, the 1995 and 1996 government shutdowns, proudly started by former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ended up costing American taxpayers over $800 million in lost productivity and “rattled the confidence of international investors in U.S. government bonds.” Even if Steele doesn’t care about veterans services being cut off, the fiscal conservative should see something “wrong” in needlessly wasting hundreds of millions of dollars.