REMEMBER THIS CANTOR QUOTE NEXT YEAR…. All kinds of Republican officeholders, candidates, and media personalities have been talking up the notion of shutting down the government next year, if there’s a House GOP majority. John Boehner, the would-be Speaker, said Republicans don’t intend to push a shutdown, but he noticeably didn’t rule it out, either.

With this in mind, the likelihood of a 1995 replay has looked pretty strong, at least to me. It came as something of a surprise, then, to hear House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) throw some cold water on the idea. From a Wall Street Journal piece:

This ambitious downsizing agenda could set up a 1995-style budget showdown. That year, President Bill Clinton vetoed Speaker Newt Gingrich’s budget, which led to a fateful showdown that many believe revitalized the Clinton presidency.

Are we headed there again? “No, Mr. Cantor says, “I don’t think the country needs or wants a shutdown.” He thinks such a scenario can be prevented if the Republicans “relentlessly make the case for how government overspending and debt are strangling the future competitiveness and growth of this country.”

It’s an interesting response. Cantor made it seem as if he and his caucus, if they’re in the majority, would persuade the country that the far-right vision is the right one. In this scenario, Cantor seems to think a shutdown won’t be necessary because the electorate will side with the GOP — and the White House, the theory goes, would be forced to go along.

What I’d like to hear Cantor reflect on is how he and his party would react if, after the “relentless case,” Americans reject the right-wing Republican agenda.

Regardless, it’s a quote to remember: “I don’t think the country needs or wants a shutdown.” I’m not at all sure Cantor’s caucus will feel the same way, but file it away for future reference.

He added, by the way, that when it comes to pursuing their agenda, Republicans “have to be careful” or they’ll be “seen as a bunch of yahoos.”

That’s his word, not mine.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.