Would a Government Shutdown Be Good News for America?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 28 2013 8:31 PM

Would a Government Shutdown Be Good News for America?

The Dome of the Capitol Building is seen through a skylight window from the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

While most are hoping the government shutdown as of Monday night can be avoided, convinced the sides will end up coming together to avoid a calamity, some seem to believe a shutdown now could ultimately be good news for the country. Why? Well, as the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein describes it, a government shutdown now makes it increasingly unlikely there will be a debt default. In other words, if you had to choose a debt default or a government shutdown, go with a government shutdown.

“A shutdown, after all, is just bad for the economy. A default is catastrophic for it,” explains Klein.


Some analysts believed that if a shutdown were avoided it would be because congressional Republicans decided to wait to push for their demands during the debt limit debate. But a shutdown effectively pushes a debt limit showdown off the table for two basic reasons. First, Republicans are highly unlikely to want to be seen pushing for default mere weeks after the shutdown. And second, many influential players outside of Washington—business leaders, Wall Street types and the like—had long assumed this was all political posturing and the Democrats and Republicans would come together to avoid something everyone knows is bad for the country. “A shutdown will prove that comforting notion wrong,” writes Klein, “and those groups will begin exerting real political pressure to force a resolution before a default happens.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



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