Democrats Spotlight GOP Talk of Government Shutdown

Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine gestures during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 10, 2005. Kaine unveiled his 2005 legislative agenda, focusing on health care, economic opportunity and public safety.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine (at left) and Vice Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz harshly criticized Republicans ina conference call Tuesday for raising the prospect of a government shutdown if the GOP takes over the House in November, calling the prospect of a shutdown "reckless and dangerous."

"It's an extreme position of obstruction that's not going to do anything but take us backwards," Kaine said.

Georgia Republican Lynn Westmoreland came under attack from Democrats last week when he called on Republican activists to support his party in the event that the GOP wins control of the House in November and a shutdown follows.

"We have put Band-Aids on some things that need to be cleaned out. That is going to take some pain," he said at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday. "If the government shuts down, we want you with us."

Westmoreland pointed to the Newt Gingrich-led shutdown standoff in 1995 and argued it could be an effective strategy for pushing through Republican spending bills that President Obama is likely to veto.

Wasserman argued that such a standoff would be "cruel and inhumane" for families and seniors who rely on government assistance, and said that due to the fragile state of the economy, the effects would be significantly more serious than in the past.

In a statement released on Friday, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen echoed Wasserman's concerns: "The Republicans' plan to shut down the government would mean than millions of seniors wouldn't get their Social Security checks or Medicare coverage and America's veterans wouldn't get the benefits they earned," he said. "While American troops are in harms' way, it is outrageous that Republican leaders would even consider shutting down the government."

Kaine accused Republicans of employing "virtually every trick in the book to block legislation," and urged voters not to choose "candidates that are going to offer right-wing ... policies that will take us back to the Bush era."

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