Wisconsin comes to Washington?

by John Quiggin on April 7, 2011

It was always highly likely that, given a Republican win in the US House of Representatives, the 1995 shutdown of the government would be repeated, and now it seems virtually certain[1]. Until recently, I’ve assumed that the outcome would be a capitulation by Obama and the Dems. Less likely, but still possible, was repeat 1995 where the Republicans caved, and took the political blame for the shutdown, but one in which there were still substantial budget cuts borne mostly by workers and the poor (actually, I think Clinton had done most of this pre-95).

The events in Wisconsin have shifted the odds, making it much harder for the Reps to shift or share the blame for a shutdown, and therefore more likely that an eventual compromise will be on terms than can be seen as a political win for the Democrats. More importantly, though, they’ve raised the prospect of something much bigger – a genuine popular movement against cuts that could turn the whole debate around.

I have no idea whether anything of the kind is being organized. I hope so, though it would be even better if something like this began as a spontaneous outgrowth of the movement in Wisconsin and elsewhere. That would, I expect, horrify Obama and the Dems even more than it would the Reps, but the example set by the fugitive legislators in Wisconsin suggests that there may yet be some Hope in the Democratic party.

BTW, sorry for posting so much lately. As you can probably tell, I have a lot of really urgent work to leave until the last possible minute.

Update The outcome was a last minute compromise that looks like a win for the Dems, relative to prior expectations. The cuts not much more than they had pre-emptively offered, and the various riders (Planned Parenthood etc) stripped away.

fn1. One problem with being in Australia is that I can’t always keep track of time. It’s already Thursday evening here, and I’ve been thinking of tomorrow as shutdown day, but actually it doesn’t start until midnight Friday DC time, which is still a day and a half away.