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1995 shutdown v. 2011: Economy a key difference

As negotiations continue in an effort to avert a federal government shutdown, pundits are pointing to the many similarities between this go-round and the shutdowns in 1995.

"It's kind of deja vu all over again," CBS News Senior White House Correspondent, Bill Plante observed on "The Early Show" Friday.

Plante covered the 1995 events.

"You have both sides standing on principle," Plante pointed out. "You have a clash between the president and the speaker. Back then, it was Democrat Bill Clinton in the White House, and Republican Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House.

Time's almost up: No deal yet as shutdown looms

"But, just like today's speaker, John Boehner, Gingrich was determined to cut money out of the budget. The money issues are very similar, too. Congress had passed a budget that cut Medicare, Medicaid, education, environmental controls, and President Clinton refused to sign that budget. He said the Republicans were putting ideology ahead of common sense. Sound familiar?"

Democrats are making the same charges against the GOP today.

"And, of course," Plante continued, "just as today in 1995, an election year, a presidential year, was just around the corner."

But, he stressed, there's a striking difference this time around from last time - a difference that's very much a wildcard: The economy was on a very sound footing in '95.

"Also," Planted added, "there were no social issues like abortion clouding the debate. But the economy was the big thing.

"Back then, the economy was growing. Credit was easy. Consumers were spending. And Gingrich thought that Clinton would fold.

"But Clinton didn't fold, and there were two shutdowns - one for about a week in November, and then for three weeks over the Christmas/New Year holiday.

"And believe me, by the beginning of that third week, people were really, really angry. They blamed both the president and Congress, but Clinton rode it out and, in the end, Congress wound up getting most of the blame, and specifically, Speaker Gingrich.

"But this time, of course, the economy is in much worse shape, and the White House is not at all certain that things would turn out the same way.

"But neither side wants to blink first."

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