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A government shutdown history lesson

You keep hearing this is the first time in nearly 18 years that the U.S. government shutdown. So you might be surprised to know...

While the term “shutdown” may sound pretty daunting, they actually used to be a yearly occurrence. There have been a whopping 17 since 1976.  (Via NBC

 As a former legal advisor to the House of Representatives told NPR: “It was thought that Congress would soon get around to passing the spending bill and there was no point in raising a ruckus while waiting.”

 In those years, the rest of government would go about business as usual while Congress bickered over spending. But that all changed when — 

 Jimmy Carter’s administration decided in a legal opinion that the government cannot function until Congress agrees to pay for it. (Via Library of Congress

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 Ever since, it’s become a routine practice for both parties to try to force the president’s hand when it comes to the budget — leading to five shutdowns during the Jimmy Carter’s administration and eight under Ronald Reagan’s watch. (Via Discovery

 The holdups were over issues ranging from government-funded abortions to giving aid to the Nicaraguan “Contra” militants. (Via Biography

 BILL CLINTON: “It is particularly unfortunate that the Republican government brought us to this juncture.”(Via CBS)

 By far the longest and most infamous shutdowns came when Bill Clinton was president — with the government shutting down twice in less than two months. (Via History Channel

 The second of which lasted 21 days and sent 800,000 workers home without paychecks. The issue that time — the Republicans led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich wanted to raise Medicare premiums. (Via CNN

 But Gingrich’s gamble didn’t pay off. The shutdown cost taxpayers an estimated $1.4 billion, while weakening the GOP’s image — and supporters say President Clinton came out on top — easily winning re-election the next year. (Via TimeC-SPAN

 The National Journal’s Adam Kushner offers one idea why:  “Voters ... say they don’t want partisan warfare. They blamed the GOP for the shutdowns of the 1990s and ousted five Republicans in 1998 after the impeachment drive, costing Gingrich his job.”

 Looking back, Bob Dole, the Republican Senate Majority Leader at the time, told The New York Times his biggest regret was not doing more to end the shutdown sooner: “I think we could have ended it a day or two earlier … because Clinton was eating our lunch.”

 The Republicans driving this latest shutdown say they don’t fear the same political fallout, instead pinning the blame on the Democrats for not wanting to compromise.  (Via ABC

History does offer some hints as to how Wall Street will expected to fare this time around. Analysts say there won’t be much long term damage. The market actually made some minor gains during the last shutdown.

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