DO WE REALLY HAVE TO PARSE THE MEANING OF ‘SHUTDOWN’?…. I can appreciate why congressional Republicans are worried about getting blamed for a government shutdown next week — it will be their fault, if it happens — but trying to rebrand the fiasco seems foolish, even for the GOP.

Conservatives are turning to a new message in the escalating budget fight: A government shutdown is not actually a shutdown.

It’s a “slowdown,” according to the new refrain from Tea Party leader Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Or as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put it on Monday, the stalemate over spending could cause the government “to partially shut down.”

Oh good, with nine days until funding for the fiscal year runs out, leading GOP officials aren’t working on a solution; they’re working on a way to parse the meaning of the word “shutdown.”

“Calling it New Coke didn’t make it taste better, and trying to change the name of Speaker Boehner’s government shutdown won’t make it hurt middle-class families and seniors any less,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

And speaking of hurt, there can be no doubt that the Republican shutdown will have a negative effect on the economy. When the congressional GOP shut down the government (twice) in the mid-90s, the economy was in pretty solid shape and could withstand the setback fairly easily.

That’s not the case in 2011.

A government shutdown would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy and could sweep away the recovery’s momentum, business leaders warned Wednesday.

Even a short shutdown because of an impasse over spending cuts between the White House and congressional Republicans would hamper the economy, officials with the Business Roundtable said.

When voters were warned about the consequences of voting for Republican congressional candidates last fall, I really wish they’d listened.

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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.