While the threat of a government shutdown has receded
for the time being, a Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll
says that Americans are split on who would be to blame if one does happen because of a standoff between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans over the budget.
Thirty-six percent said the Republicans would be at fault, while 35 percent would blame the Obama administration with another 17 percent believing both sides would equally bear the blame. Eleven percent were undecided.
Large majorities of Republicans and Democrats predictably say the blame would be on the other side. Independents are more mixed in their views, with 37 percent saying it would be the administration's fault compared to 32 percent who would blame the Republicans and 17 percent saying both sides would share the blame equally. Thirteen percent were undecided.
The overall result contrasts with a Washington Post/ABC News poll in 1995, when 46 percent said the fault for a possible government shutdown (which did, in fact, happen) would be mainly the Republicans' fault and 27 percent said then-President Clinton would be to blame. Clinton's approval ratings rose after that battle while the standing of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took a hit.
Gingrich wrote an opinion piece
for the Washington Post Sunday arguing that his stand proved to be the right thing to do because sticking "to our principles through a very contentious and difficult period" ultimately led to a series of consecutive balanced budget. He said the shutdown that occurred when Clinton vetoed a Republican-crafted budget was the president's fault and the White House acted as it did because it "knew that it could use the power of the presidency and the support of liberal media to blame us."
Pew said the difference in the two situations may be that current House Speaker John Boehner is viewed less negatively than the more controversial Gingrich. In August 1995, a few months before the budget confrontation, 54 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Gingrich, compared to 30 percent who saw him favorably. A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in January said 42 percent had a favorable view of Boehner compared to 22 percent who did not, with the rest presumably undecided or not knowing enough about the GOP leader to have an opinion.
A majority of Americans think both sides are playing politics rather than "honestly trying to resolve the budget issue," according to the Post
Fifty percent believe the Obama administration is playing politics while 43 percent say it is trying to resolve the budget issues, with 7 percent undecided. Fifty-nine percent say the Republicans are playing politics while 33 percent say they are trying to resolve the issue, with 7 percent undecided.