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posted: 10/1/2013 5:00 AM

Shutdowns nothing new but are bad policy

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During President Obama's news conference following Friday's Senate vote approving the Continuing Resolution, he remarked that no one should threaten to shut down the government "just to extract political concessions." Perhaps he forgot that his own party initiated the shutdown tactic as they engineered the first six shutdowns beginning with the Gerald Ford presidency in 1976. Ronald Reagan governed through seven government shutdowns during his eight years in office.

Who are we kidding? All shutdowns were designed to leverage concessions that could not be achieved through normal political dialogue. As a seasoned politician, surely President Obama knows and appreciates that threatening to shut down the government is a tried and true, albeit repugnant, tactic in the political tool kit. Arriving at a previously known deadline with nothing more to offer than threats is never productive in collective bargaining, the classroom or parenting. It's no different in politics and government. If you have not authentically prepared by doing your "homework" the results are usually ugly.

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The remedy for such brinkmanship is to proactively demonstrate ongoing engaged leadership that promotes honest dialogue leading to political decisions that meet genuine interests. But, of course, that requires hard work. One can only be left with the following conclusions about the current threat of a government shutdown: Neither side has done much to avoid it. It's happened before. We'll get through it. It's a bad way to do business. We can do better.

Ronald Bearwald


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