Think Shutdowns are a Thing of the Past? Think Again

We know 2015 could very well be a year of big gridlock in Washington as an Obama White House and Congressional Republicans lock horns in epic policy battles. But the ghost of government shutdowns past could also haunt us as both sides carve lines in the partisan sands over a number of budget disagreements. The Hill’s Rebecca Shabad does a good job giving us a glimpse into what could go down:

The federal budget is almost certain to be the central battleground between President Obama and the new Republican Congress in 2015.

The GOP has vowed to use control of the House and Senate to slash the size of government, with entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security a potential target for cuts.

But Obama has made clear he will use his veto pen against the GOP, forcing Republicans to tread carefully as they seek to avoid government shutdowns and recapture the White House in 2016.

It’s clear President Obama is moving into 2015 with a bit more leverage than what he had the day after 2014 Congressional midterms. Heading into the end of the 113th Congress, the president appeared mortally wounded to casual observers as prognosticators quickly pulled out pens to write political obituaries. But the president was soon flipping scripts, surprising rivals and critics with a string of fresh policy ambushes: an executive order on immigration reform, post-embargo deals cut with Cuba, a climate change and trade double deal with China and a sudden changed narrative in the Ukraine conflict as the Russian ruble went into freefall.

But any notion that government shutdowns can’t happen in 2015 due to GOP hesitation is misleading. Democrats will more than likely attempt to claim the economic recovery narrative, but Republicans are still in position to wreak legislative havoc on any White House plans, including but not limited to shutdowns. There will be some reluctance on the part of GOP Congressional leaders in terms of immediate optics should we reach the edge of shutdowns and fiscal cliffs. Yet, even after the last shutdown in October 2013, Republicans quickly reclaimed their electoral balance to not only recapture the Senate majority but to also expand their grip in the House. If it’s one thing Congressional Republicans understand: voters have short attention spans and memories. A shutdown in 2015 will be long forgotten by the time 2016 arrives.

Charles Ellison

Charles Ellison is Politics Contributor for theRoot.com and Washington Correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune. He can be reached via Twitter @ellisonreport