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10 Fun Facts About the Government Shutdown

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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.

Fingers crossed.

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.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2013, at 4:41 PM, peckbill wrote:

    The GOP has told so many lies during the past two years concerning budget and economic problems that the American people have turn a deaf ear to the GOP. The GOP is now trying to shift the blame for all the past two years of government to the Democrats, but it won’t work. The GOP is citing past years, as far back as 2006, to shift the blame; it won’t work. America has not had a budget for the past three years; who is to blame? The GOP is to blame. The people in the GOP members of the House and Senate of Congress have their own agenda (their agenda is beginning to fall apart and fragment) and they are not willing to work with other members of Congress or the grass roots people to resolve the problems. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was approved by the full Congress in 2010 and signed by the President; in 2012 the GOP asked the Supreme Court to review the law for Constitutionality; the Supreme Court headed by a GOP President appointee told Congress and the American people that the Law was constitutionally correct. Money is not the problem; there is plenty of it to go around, but authorization to spend the money must come from the Congress and the GOP, both House and Senate, are telling the Democrats and the people of America NO, not unless we get our way. The GOP’s agenda(s) is/are built on lies and big money. If Wall Street calls and tells the GOP to “do it”, it gets done. The GOP is holding the American people hostage to get their childish way in Congress. The American people will not be held hostage and in the near future, it may be 2014 or even 2016, the American people will get regain their freedom. We do not need the GOP or it’s so called “Tea Party Members”; America was built on the foundation of freedom by, for and of the people. We will replace each and every GOP member over the next few years and those of you idiots that think your money can keep buying favor in government will get a great shock. If need be the Congress shall consist of Democrats and Independents; the name of you GOP members who try to switch, like Lieberman, shall be remembered as the cowards and members of Congress that held the American people hostage over childish agendas. A few good Congressmen, like McCain, may be politically hurt in the process, but America must be first on OUR agenda. Misfits the likes of Cruz, Paul, Ryan and other notable members of the GOP must fall to the will of the people. Five Democrats who side with the GOP are Reps. Ron Kind (Wis.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), John Barrow (Ga.), Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.).

    Beginning now and continuing into 2014, 2015 and 2016 we must and will target every GOP member in all levels of government for replacement.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2013, at 7:16 PM, Judann111 wrote:

    11. President Obama first president in US History refusing to personally negotiate during a government shut-down.

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