The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce President Thomas Donohue told a group of reporters at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor on Friday that the brinksmanship over a tiny slice of the federal budget -- 1.7 percent of total federal outlays -- will press Congress to reluctantly grapple with the bigger issues of entitlements.
"It will be ugly, it will take time, but we will do some good amount of the things on the table for our survival," he said.
The Chamber of Commerce has been urging members of Congress to avoid a government shut down, arguing that it could damage the economy if it lasts more than a few days by delaying the pay checks of federal employees. Donohue said a short shutdown may ultimately not have a negative effect.
"I think we've had shutdowns starting in 1975, about 15 or 20 times to this point. Most of them were very short. One of them was 21 days, but most of them were a day and a half, two days, three days, five days. So, no, I don't think it upsets economic growth that much," said Donohue. "It certainly upsets the people that have to run our government."
The Chamber of Commerce, under R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President For Government Affairs, is putting together a coalition to raise the debt limit, but with conditions attached that would reign in federal spending in other ways.
"We have been telling people 'Work it out. Get it done,'" Josten said. "We appreciate the theatrics [of the threatened shut-down]. . .Eventually we are going to get there."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.