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Public Split on Who's to Blame if Government Shuts Down, Poll Finds

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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.

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Democratic Party should have been passed last year.

March 18 2011 at 12:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

A Washington Post poll casts doubt on whether Dems are to blame? Are they serious. The Dems cannot get used to the idea that we have finally tired of their wasteful nonsense. If the government does shut down, there is no doubt that it due to Dem intransigence in failing to change their profligate ways.

March 03 2011 at 4:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Wisconsin is ranked 8th in the best school system and 4th in highest graduation rates. It is ranked 48th in starting pay. It is ranked 2nd out of 50 states in highest ACT/SAT scores of their high school students. 90% of the top 10 best school system states voted for Obama in last Presidential election. 70% of the bottom 10, worst school systems, voted Republican. Republicans want to "Dumb Down" America. They are terrible at keeping good teachers. One example, Republican state Arizona is ranked last in best schools and yet pays their teachers $5,000 more than Wisconsin. Governor Walker was a high school drop-out and he never went to College. He does not anyone to be more educated than him – so he wants to dumb down the Wisconsin children.
In the same bill, it allows for state funded no bid contracts for corporations. Basically, this means that the state will pay two to three times more for a contract such as construction, energy, etc. This extra money will help fund Walker's friends who contribute to his campaign. Steal from the teachers and give to Corporate friends. That's his motto.

March 02 2011 at 10:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

So if they shut down doesn't that mean that they failed to meet the expectations and obligations of their jobs? We all know what that means in the real world. They all need to be fired right now- call for their resignations or begin impeachment proceedings on everyone involved right now and strip them of their benefits. This is ridiculous and if we sit back and allow it we are to blame and deserve what we get.

March 02 2011 at 7:50 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

No matter what anyone says, both parties are to blame and both should be held accountable. And so should the American people if we don't let these ELECTED officials know that we're not listening to talk anymore. We want action. No one wants cuts if it involves them but if the country goes bankrupt, no one will get anything. And it's the fault of both parties. Period.

March 02 2011 at 2:21 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Roy Pannell

Your right about one thing and that is this.... the American public are to say the least ....feed up with the people in Washington but to put the blame on somebody hey its clear Dems had a chance and should of adopted a budget before the mid term elections... So to say we are mixed in the poll the poll show what you want it to show and reflects nothing about whats really going on... this continued liberal spreading of invaladated and misimformation might have voters to wonder in the past but smoke and mirorres don't work anymore ... I know try a rabbit in the hat....that would be different and fun....

March 01 2011 at 11:23 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Shut down the Federal Government? Now that's the best idea yet. Who gets blamed? Who failed to pass a budget when they were supposed to? They were too busy campaiging.

March 01 2011 at 3:01 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

In 2010 the Democrat controlled Congress could have passed any budget they wanted to by October 1 as is supposedly required. Due to their neglect and or incompetance they failed to do so. Now people want to blame the current Congress for the problem. What is up with that?

March 01 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

I hope people will start wising up and realize the republican plan will not only increase the debt and create unemployment but for sure it is all going to fall on the middle class. They will stop at nothing to make President Obama look bad. Remember middle America, it will fall on you.

March 01 2011 at 12:17 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

Since every credible report says the spending cannot be cut this early into the recovery, the Republicans would be to blame. Of course, their plan is to keep the economy in the tank so they can blame Obama and take the White House...then we'll get another repressive Republican regime that spends money like Reagan, Bush and Bush until there can be no hope for recovery.

March 01 2011 at 11:48 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tausands's comment

We are in these dire straits in large part due too the frivolous spending by the Libs/Dems, without benefit to the people. The States are treading water in large part due too the costs placed on them by the Fed Gov't. It is beyond absurd to say the Republicans are trying to tank the economy/recovery. Was it not Obama who said he was going to fundamentally change the face of America. Well, he has made a great start, heading us right to the edge of the black hole, and I am pretty sure that is what he intended, well before he hit the campaign trail.

March 01 2011 at 10:21 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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