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The U.S. government has now been "shut down" for 12 days straight. It may open for business again five minutes from now. Or it could reopen in five days -- hopefully with a debt ceiling-raise included, because the government is supposed to run out of money on Oct. 17. Or it could take five weeks.
How long it will take is anybody's guess, but the good news is that eventually, the crisis will resolve itself, the government will reopen, and America will resume paying its bills.
As Winston Churchill once famously said: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else." And how do we know he's right? Because it's always worked out this way before.
History doesn't always repeat itself, but it does rhyme
That's right, Fools. While this month's government shutdown may feel like a once-in-a-lifetime, epic fail of democracy, in fact, the U.S. government locks itself up and shuts itself down with quite some regularity. The most recent such instance came in December 1995, when a standoff between President Clinton and the House Republicans "shut down" the government for a record 21 days. Now, here are 10 more fun facts you may not know about the history of government shutdowns in America:
1. Since 1976, the government has shut down a total of 18 times.
2. The average shutdown lasted seven days.
3. On average, stock markets declined 0.6% over the course of a shutdown.
4. Many of the shutdowns in America -- seven out of the past 18 -- begin as budget disputes, and accordingly begin on Oct. 1 of a given year.
5. Such budget-related shutdowns last longer than average -- nine days -- and wreak greater damage than usual on the stock market, with declines averaging 1.9%.
6. The second most popular reason for shutting down the government is a dispute over defense spending, which happened five times -- all during the Reagan administration.
7. President Bush "43," although widely considered a divisive figure in American politics, was the only president since President Ford to suffer no government shutdown at all during his administration.
8. Yet on average, more shutdowns occur under Republican presidents than under Democrats. President Reagan's administration saw the government shut down a whopping eight times in eight years -- twice as many as under President Carter (four times in four years), and four times as often as under President Clinton's two terms (when it shut down twice).
9. Shutdowns under Democratic presidents, however, tend to last longer than those under Republican presidents. President Carter's administration was offline for 57 days total, and President Clinton's by 26 days. President Reagan, in contrast, despite having the most shutdowns, was actually only "closed" a total of 14 days.
10. After crunching the numbers from historical data, the head of research for Businessweek and Bloomberg TV went on record earlier this week predicting that the current government shutdown will resolve itself within precisely 13 days -- so tomorrow.
Your tax bill isn't getting shut down
Eventually, the government will get back up and running -- and eventually, it will come running to you to help pay its bills. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," The Motley Fool's tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.