As we watch the Ted Cruz filibuster-ish thingy on CSPAN, I’m reminded of Harry Reid’s claim yesterday that the GOP’s effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, and ultimately risk a government shutdown, is like the movie Thelma and Louise (see picture at right).
In short, I don’t think that’s an apt analogy for an important reason: government shutdowns are short in duration. The following are state and federal government shutdowns dating back to 1995 (ordered from longest to shortest):
- Federal Government Shutdown no. 2–12/16/1995 to 1/6/1996 (21 days)
- Minnesota Shutdown–7/1/2005 to 7/9/2005 (8 days)
- New Jersey Shutdown–7/1/2006 to 7/8/2006 (7 days)
- Federal Government Shutdown no. 1–11/14/1995 to 11/19/1995 (5 days)
- Pennsylvania Shutdown–7/11/2007 to 7/12/2007 (1 day)
The median shutdown lasted for 7 days while the average is just 8 days. Moreover, during the so-called “fiscal-cliff” crisis in January of this year, the United States plunged over the cliff for…. 1 day. And then we came back over the cliff. But we’re now poised to go back over the very same precipice. So it’s nothing like Thelma and Louise.
Sorry if this doesn’t have a coherent point, but I’m tired of using the “cliff” metaphor to explain how Congress deliberates. Deadlines play a critical role in breaking legislative gridlock and compelling Congress to act, yes. But these deadlines are not irreversible precipices. Got it?