Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Governors are becoming increasingly concerned with the accumulating effects of the federal government shutdown. That includes Gov. Paul LePage, who this week became the first governor to respond to the shutdown by calling a civil emergency, an action that allows him to suspend a wide range of laws and regulations.
On Friday, LePage and 24 other governors participated in a conference call with President Obama about the effects of the shutdown. According to a White House readout of the call, the President told the governors that U.S. House Republicans' "brinksmanship strategy of shutting down the government and threatening default as a bargaining tactic is one that the country cannot afford."
The President also told the bipartisan group of governors that a prolonged shutdown was hurting states, consumer confidence and businesses. Obama also said he's willing to negotiate ways to address the country's "fiscal health," but he wouldn't do so in a "crisis atmosphere" of the government shutdown and the threat of default.
It's unclear what the governors said during the conference call. Adrienne Bennett, the governor's spokeswoman, confirmed that LePage was on the call, but she didn't respond to a subsequent request for comment.
Obama's remarks reflect his firm stance during the shutdown, a stance that is increasingly buoyed by public opinion. On Friday, a widely publicized NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed that a majority of Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown. Additionally, seven in 10 respondents said Republicans were “putting their own political agenda ahead of what is good for the country” by linking the funding of federal government with the defunding of the health care law.
A note about the poll: It was jointly conducted by a Democratic and Republican pollster. The Fix, a Washington Post political blog, obtained a memo written by the Republican pollster about what the survey may mean for the GOP.
He wrote that the polls is among "the handful of surveys that stand out in my career as being significant and consequential" for Republicans, who may experience a prolonged period of public backlash. He added a silver lining: " there is comfort though that the next federal election is a year plus away."
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.