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Republicans talk up a 'government shutdown.' Do they mean it?

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There's been some interesting revisionism of late when it comes to the 1995 shutdowns. Republicans have been suggesting that those episodes, far from being a political disaster for their party, were actually positive, because they pushed President Clinton to embrace smaller government and led to the eventual accomplishment of things like a balanced budget and welfare reform.

On NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, former shutdown-architect Newt Gingrich himself made the case that the events of 1995 could provide a good model for action today, saying: "I helped close the government twice. It actually worked. Bill Clinton came in and said 'the era of big government is over' after two closures, not before."

That view was echoed by Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, who was in the House for the 1995 shutdowns, and said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that they "actually gave us the impetus, as we went forward, to push toward some real serious compromise." When asked if he thought a shutdown now would be a good idea, Salmon said, "Yes, I do."

Now, not surprisingly, the Republican leadership in Congress has been far more circumspect on this point. On "Meet The Press," Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly dodged the question when asked if he would "rule out" a government shutdown.

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