1995-96 shutdown cost $3.7 billion

I'm curious: How long did the federal shutdown in the mid-1990s last? Was it the longest? And did it save us any money? I don't mind telling you that I'm getting really frustrated with this current mess by all the goofuses — goofi? — in D.C. Pox on all of them. Dysfunctional doesn't even start to describe these Bozos.

— Jim S., Medford

Given your growing frustration and that little pox thing, we will spare you our usual humorous balderdash, Jim.

You may recall that the 1995-96 partial shutdown came in two parts, with the first occurring from Nov. 14-19 in 1995.

But negotiations broke off and the shutdown resumed on Dec. 16 and continued through Jan. 6, 1996. The second shutdown came to 21 days all told, the longest event of its kind.

Like the current budgetary standoff, it was the result of an impasse between a Democratic president and Republicans in Congress. Back then, the spat was over spending in the 1996 federal budget on Medicare, public health care, education and the environment.

Anyone of an age to pay attention to politics will recall the political tussle between then President Bill Clinton and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. As with today's battle, it was not pretty.

It would be darn near impossible to say whether the shutdowns saved any money, Jim. In fact, a 2010 Congressional Research Service report concluded the 1995-96 shenanigans cost about $3.7 billion. That included some $400 million that was eventually paid to furloughed federal employees who did not work during that period.

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