The present-day government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health insurance package, popularly known as Obamacare, has striking similarities to an episode of “The West Wing,” which dealt with a similar scenario all the way back in 2003, according to The Daily Beast.
Season five of the series featured an episode titled “Shutdown” where a disagreement in budget cuts between Democrats and Republicans forces the government to shut down. And, the video clip of the episode has been shared extensively since the U.S. government began a partial shutdown on Oct. 1.
The plot synopsis of the episode shows that the disruption is caused when a Republican speaker, Jeff Haffley (played by Steven Culp), demands a 3 percent cut in the budget, opposing a decision taken by Democratic President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) to cut budgets by 1 percent.
“We are governing,” Haffley says on the show, elaborating his reasons for demands that cause the fictional government shutdown. “We’re slowing the rate of federal spending increases, we’re stopping this president from driving the country deeper into debt and leaving our children to pay for it. We’re doing what we told the voters we’d do if they elected us.”
According to reports, the situation is very similar to today’s crisis. For instance, in both cases, a Republican House speaker “and his caucus are holding a Democratic president, the Senate, and the nation hostage,” The Daily Beast reported.
While the issue that caused the West Wing shutdown was a disagreement over budget cuts, in Washington, it’s a disagreement over Obamacare, with the Republicans saying they’ll agree on the federal budget only if Obamacare is delayed by a year, resulting in the current real-life disruption.
While it is not sure how long, and to what extent, the government will remain shut, the Twitterverse believes that a number of lessons can be learned from “The West Wing” episode, with some users pointing out that the television drama version of the shutdown was “less ridiculous.”
“When the West Wing did this episode, the antagonists were considerably less ridiculous than in real life,” Alex Gaynor, a Twitter user, wrote, while Jelena Subotic, another online user, added: “So far, this government shutdown has been like that episode of the "West Wing," just much stupider.”