1996 Government Shutdown Revisited

Cokie Roberts on discussions she had with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich on the '96 shutdown.
17:40 | 10/04/13

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Transcript for 1996 Government Shutdown Revisited
This is a special group. I'm Dan -- in New York this ABC news digital special report the president lunches the speaker punches Republican house speaker John Boehner. Blasting Democrats as the government shutdown enters its fourth day. The speaker is furious -- Democrats refuse to remove funding for the Affordable Care Act in the nation's spending -- or at least delay the laws -- out. Democrats say they're happy to negotiate an end the stalemate but they won't change the Health Care Reform law that has already been upheld. By the US Supreme Court. On its acts on -- on now live from New York on -- Hi Dan that's right the Democrats say that they refused to deal in a piecemeal approach as the rhetoric in Washington becomes even more force all. Every morning the senate starts with a blessing to us -- but as the government shutdown drags along the -- prayers have taken -- stern tone. Remove from them. That stubborn pride. For give them. For the blunders they have committed. With no end in sight President Obama has canceled its trip is leaning Republicans. This shutdown could be over today we know there of the post war in the House of Representatives is speaker -- -- simply alone. That -- to take place. -- and Republicans are blaming Democrats. Some damn game. The American people don't want our government shut down and neither do why senators Rand Paul -- Mitch McConnell caught on this hot Mike. I think we keep saying we wanted to -- that we -- -- -- -- -- They can look him. -- no we don't want to be okay. With national parks veterans benefits clinical trials and more all shuttered. American patience is wearing -- the cells and bunch of kids are getting though. Whose toll is this. There's always -- -- is news even those capitol police who responded to the threat yesterday are working without pay. And the markets are still on edge as there is absolutely no certainty that congress will get its act together anytime soon. Obviously what people are very concerned about -- the possibility that the US could deep fault on its debt financial analysts say that that would be of course catastrophic. -- No waiting -- -- watching does continue on -- -- in New York lot of thank you for that. While she was in Washington tracking President Bill Clinton -- Republican speaker Newt Gingrich during bear shut down in the winter 19956. Of course she -- ABC's Cokie Roberts joins us now from Washington. Cokie thank you for being with us today we appreciate it I want to take a look at the federal government shut down. Now in compared to that. Good evening surely they wouldn't do it again they wouldn't let part of the government be shut down again. It is day one of the first government shutdown in seventeen years the federal government is still partially shut down this morning to -- David. Shut down to shut down -- -- 800000. Federal workers around the country to -- Richard Nixon and fortune. And what -- -- did have wanting column that the speaker of the house John -- simply let the bill get on the floor. For an up or down vote. The shutdown would end today the congress should simply pass straightforward legislation. Keep the government open. Government gridlock contributed to a very sharp drop on Wall Street today the Dow fell 128. Points. No talking my way or the highway they need to come our way and sit down -- have but serious discussion about resolving differences. I would not given to such a threat last month. And I will not give them today. And -- -- negotiate. -- -- -- -- -- Politics politics politics there hostage taking tactics Republicans sat across from empty chairs -- does not appear to be a compromise in the near future. Do not count on a breakthrough. To stop this crap. Some damn game. A slide into economic oblivion did not like them Sam I am I didn't want me to him on the. -- then on a jet plane. I don't know when you'll be paid again. Look Hokies. Trip down memory lane the faces are different the legislation is different but we're hearing a lot of the same arguments that we did in 1995 our way. Well and the legislation isn't even all that different except for the fill -- Obamacare of the Affordable Care Act being thrown in there the question is that the congress is not -- gotten it together to. Do fund the government and so. This is the way that they can make their political points. And that's what they did back then and that's what they're doing now now the difference now is that was we've had the experience of them. And what the elder statesman and in the Republican Party Hussein is. It didn't work for use then and it's not likely the work force now. But of their having trouble being heard by -- younger members. X experience can be something that is very difficult to -- -- her and I deposed as skinny as skinny teenagers and listen. It's a -- you covered Newt Gingrich's ascension to speaker of the house in January 1990 I don't want to take a look back at that. It's sensitive missing the for visitors. Speaker Gingrich invited to CNN at the end of another long day. He was marveling at the view of the city out of the window of his new office -- in an almost everything you said yes they are overwhelmed. I still feel I had. I -- this was new -- accommodate a -- the wide eyed white that's nice guy. Most especially this -- new to statesman from the man who now holds the only congressional leadership positions set forth in the constitution. The man who is second in line to be president of the United States. And who -- leader of the legislative branch of government went to the White House today as the president's co. This is I -- leadership of the United States government and I -- -- -- ego would but that. That's -- guy stands who really does have an enormous responsibility. -- could you tell back then that -- it would be around for awhile. Well he was always -- really interest in political figure. From the time he'd come to congress in 1978. In really stirred things up. And gotten the back -- Really organized and and overthrown the establishment them. So the fact that he became speaker -- was then that. Really remarkable thing the Republicans had not taken in the house in in forty years. And and so he was a superstar and we certainly did know that actually the part that was more surprising. -- his rise. Was his -- And I think you can pretty much blame the government shut them for that fall. Well I wanted to ask you a little bit before it got to that point there with Republicans big wins and with Gingrich with his ascension do you think that perhaps Republicans. They overplay their hands. Winners are almost always overplay their hands and we and we have these mid term elections. As something of a check on that. Because often. The the -- -- all the voters wanted us to do all of these dramatic things in with was Newt Gingrich it was a revolution. And you know what Americans are not -- this year we haven't really been some 1776. And -- And so need generally let voters Hussein -- Wait a minute the people who is there have gone too far. They've over -- so -- 1992. When Bill Clinton was elected with a democratic congress and you had. All of government in the hands of one party. They they put forth a health care bill that the voters didn't like they. They acted in a way that made the voters think they were -- -- And so the Republicans came man in 1994 they had this contract for America. And and -- Gingrich leading them. And they took the congress and then. They interpreted. As a revolution. And went too far and the government shutdown was the main. Example. The indication that they had gone too far and do you see some similar -- now playing out with speaker Boehner. Well speaker -- is trying to be the moderator here but he has his own group of revolutionaries. And they feel strongly that they came and then into when he -- -- -- twelve. With a whole new agenda -- that they aren't there to shake things up and change Washington and we hear this all the time. From from new members of congress and of course the voters are always -- change Washington. But they probably not eager to change it so much that -- is no government at all. And and that's what we're dealing with right now. We've seen this shut down and the shutdown in 1995. Devolved into some pettiness and name calling it an. I -- there's one particular. Example in 1995. Regarding then speaker Gingrich is seeming to hold a grudge against President Clinton. Regarding Air Force One. They were flying back half of -- -- of foreign trip and does the speaker was relegated to the back of the plane and -- should be sitting with the president you just heard him saying in that clip. I'm co equal and and so I think that he. He was -- and what it got portraying aid. That he was shutting down the government because he was. And does and that didn't help either because then it really did work against him with -- Republicans in the again. Perhaps that might have been a subtle move by the Clinton administration -- see things as being a little more overtly. -- -- Now. Yes things are things have only gotten more acidic over the years. And that's for a whole lot of reasons that we've talked about. And in previous conversations but. One of them -- is very key here. Is that the drying in of district lines is such that members of congress of both parties. Ten to represented districts -- very like minded people. And so the only trouble they can get -- do. Is to vote. I'm ideologically. Purely so if Republicans don't -- into the right and Democrats to the -- They can have challenges in their -- -- days they can defeat them. By the time they get to the general election they usually don't have a battle because the district disease or democratic district -- Republican district. Hot today how we've seen that played out in this shut down and our most recent ABC poll. Among those who strongly. Disapprove. -- -- 52%. Of them said shut down the government. Only 27%. Of the population -- a whole -- So which -- seen as Republicans responding. To their own voters in their own districts. Who say shut down the government to try to kill Obama care. And when you have that kind of force behind view. It means that you can come and very strongly. And not feel -- need to soften the edges and now. And that's what's happening now and speaking of public sentiment there was that that famous New York Daily News cover. Back in 1995 to 96 rather depicting Mitt and Newt Gingrich as a crybaby. What effect the cartoon like that out on people's perceptions of the shut down in general in 96. But. Think that there was a book was a perception that they of the congress -- a hold that the speaker in particular. Was acting minute and it childish fashion and I think there's a lot of that since today to. And for good reason this is not a grown up way to behave. But I think that the Republicans are hoping that the blame will work for both parties and -- both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. What we tend to stay in the post. Is that it hurts the Republicans more than Democrats but what it really hurts is perceptions of government that this. That these institutions are broken. And that the voters are very disgusted with them. At a -- that makes it hard to get anything done. -- and there are obviously different channels now that the public -- -- this kind of information because. If you look at the public relations side of the shutdown this week we're seeing both sides getting their message out. In various ways Twitter campaigns -- -- got hash tags on their podiums YouTube videos really an all out PR war. And of course he's channeled -- available in 1995. And and it begs the question has technology almost changed the face of the debate. Sure it has the fact that your debating in real time was all kinds of people participating. Really does make it says that it's it's very hard to retreat into a back room. And and make a deal. Because everybody's in on -- comic -- station. It's also true that we did not have at that point. The strong ideological. -- cable channels. And MSNBC and -- when he did have talk radio and Newt Gingrich was very. Enthusiastic. About the -- -- the talk radio played in the election of the 1994. Republican congress. But today but. Since then it's gotten so much more. Rabid really on both sides of it the combination of the cable channels -- radio and the Internet. There's a lot of anger out there and a lot of activity. Well and Newt Gingrich has in -- throw himself back into the mix recently. Period on Jay Leno saying that he. And President Clinton only -- that shut down a -- by talking to each other something that he's that he thinks that Obama and Boehner need to start doing. But you know the question is is it really more hostile than it was there. -- people ask me all the time is this the most partisan time and I history and it's not you know people are not shooting -- generally this is a plus. Metal detectors good. But but it is a a very highly highly partisan time. And it is for a whole variety of reasons and Newt Gingrich was one of the beautiful caters of that partisan spirit. And now he's an elder statesman so it's a little bit he's. He's not as agitated as some of the younger. Members of his party but -- like he's still out there is a leader of of conservatives and as certainly as a thought leader. But I yes things are there are nasty. The whole society Dan is next -- and and you get that reflected eyes and the representatives here in Washington they are represented. Given that then when we look at the histories from 95 and 96 and we compared it to the events that it happened in the past couple of weeks. What do you see as a positive -- possible signs that both sides might say in fact there are no winners in this situation simply pass a budget. Well -- at the moment half -- I'm not saying that although. Then there's been enough conversation about -- winning. That's been a detrimental that happen -- you just heard does speaker Boehner saying this is not. A game he was responding to a Wall Street Journal stories -- quoting someone at the White House saying we're winning. Let's let -- and -- leave it this way so I think that there is a lot of conversation about that but the the fact is that the only way I think that this one. Is going to end is that we do have that big debt ceiling. Deadline coming up and I think that's when it went both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are focused on. And figuring out a way to -- avoid -- deep -- and get -- some pollution before it. Certainly timeline that everyone is keeping a close cyanide ABC's Cokie Roberts Cokie thank you so much I am nominating you to handle this impasse -- I think if anyone can handle it. It would certainly be you -- just a mother -- mother and items and I couldn't agree more and there could be -- -- leading candidate thanks so much and Stan. Of course we have a complete report on ABC news dot conference on Dan that's where New York -- this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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