The Washington media establishment believes that the government shutdowns of 1995 and early 1996 were disastrous mistakes that accomplished little and cost House Republicans politically. The facts are exactly the opposite.
While the shutdown produced some short-term pain, it set the stage for a budget deal in 1996 that led to the largest drop in federal discretionary spending since 1969. The discipline imposed by this 1996 budget let to a balanced-budget deal in 1997, the first of four consecutive balanced budgets – an achievement Congress and the White House had not achieved since the 1920s. Overall spending grew at an average of 2.9 percent a year while Newt was Speaker, the slowest rate in decades, and Americans created 11 million new j