Congressional reporter Carl Hulse spied parallels between the current test of wills over funding the troops in Iraq and the 1995 battle over the federal budget in Wednesday's A1 story, "Tussle Over Iraq Spending Bill Reminds Many of a Bitter 1995 ."
Hulse took us back to 1995, the year the triumphant new GOP Congressional majority picked a budget fight with the on-the-ropes Clinton administration: "The 1995 budget fight grew out of the push by Republicans - riding their historic House takeover the year before - for cuts in federal spending, with Medicare as their poster child for a bloated federal program. When Mr. Clinton refused to go along with trimming the program, budget talks collapsed, and the resulting 21-day shutdown put nearly 300,000 federal workers on furlough and disrupted public services.
"Republicans were outmaneuvered in that battle, and found that the public blamed them for a shutdown of federal agencies."
As the Media Research Center pointed out again and again during the bogus 1995Medicare "cuts" debate, what the GOP Congress was proposing was not "cuts" in Medicare, but to slow down future increases in program spending. Republicans actually proposed reducing the growth of federal spending on Medicare from over 10 percent a year to 7 percent.
Yet the mainstream media insisted on calling those reductions in spending increases "cuts," and that misnomer continues today.
More Hulse: "Almost from the beginning of the budget fight in 1995, Mr. Clinton's poll numbers edged up and those of Mr. Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the House, dipped as the public perceived the president as the one trying to resolve the problem and Republicans as inflexible. One difference with 1995 was that in that episode, there was tangible fallout for Americans as parks and museums closed, benefit checks were delayed and an array of federal assistance was suspended."
An experienced reporter like Hulse should have noted that there's a name for that cynical "budget-cutting" tactic - the "Washington Monument" game, in which high profile services like national parks are closed in order to maximize public inconvenience, and the Clinton administration played it well in 1995.