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Why is the Government Shutting Down, Facing Default?

WHO: American University experts on the budget battle and between Congress and the President.

WHAT: American University’s political experts are available to speak about the potential upcoming government shutdown

WHEN: September 30 - ongoing

WHERE: In-Studio, via Skype, via telephone, or at American University
Congress, the President, and the Budget Process

James Thurber, university professor of government and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, is an expert on presidential-congressional relations and author of Obama in Office (2011). Thurber is available to discuss the dynamics and dysfunction of the congressional budget process.

Connie Morella, ambassador in residence, represented Maryland’s 8th district in Congress from 1987 to 2003. Morella later served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris from 2003 to 2007. In Congress, Morella was a well-known moderate who successfully initiated legislation In addition to teaching at American University, Ambassador Morella is the president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. Morella can discuss how the shutdown in 1996 differs from the current threat and how partisanship has deepened.

Patrick Griffin is the academic director of the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute and served as legislative affairs director in the Clinton administration. Griffin served in the White House during the 1996 shutdown Griffin also has served in various roles in the U.S. Senate including as a staff member on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and the Senate Budget Committee. Griffin can discuss prior shutdowns and the current issues creating one of the most divisive sessions of Congress in recent memory.

Allan Lichtman distinguished professor of history, is an expert on the presidency, presidential campaigns, voting behavior, public opinion, and American political history. His book, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Lichtman is available to discuss President Obama, Congress, and how the budget battle compares with prior administrations and Congress.

Leonard Steinhorn, a professor of public communication and history, is an expert in American politics, strategic communication, and the presidency. He appears regularly in the Washington Post, Salon, New York Times, Politico, International Herald Tribune, Huffington Post, and History News Network among others, and he is the founding editor of PunditWire, where political speechwriters comment on the news. During the 2012 election he served as a political analyst for CBS News. Prior to coming to academia, Steinhorn spent 15 years as a political consultant and speechwriter. Steinhorn is available to discuss the political implications of major events on Capitol Hill.

Media Treatment of the Budget Battle

Richard Benedetto is a journalism professor who before entering academia served as a White House correspondent and columnist for USA Today and political columnist for Gannett News Service as part of his nearly 40 year career. Benedetto covered the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush White Houses. Professor Benedetto is available to analyze how the media is covering the “shutdown” threat and President Obama’s performance.

Political Actors and Political Psychology

Antoine Yoshinaka, assistant professor in the department of government, examines how institutions and the preferences of political actors influence political outcomes. Yoshinaka is available to discuss the dynamics of the key players in the budget debate on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Gautham Rao is a U.S. historian who specializes in the history of capitalism and the state. Professor Rao is available to talk about the history of the federal government, including its purpose, as well as the myths. He can also provide analysis on how present day politics clouds the role in which the government is meant to play in our lives.

Matthew Wright, assistant professor in the department of government is an expert in public opinion, political psychology, and political methodology. Wright’s research explores numerous topics relevant to American politics including the causes and implications of political identity; political culture; and U.S. voting behavior.

Conservative Movement

Christopher Malagisi, adjunct professor in American University's School of Public Affairs, is an expert on the conservative movement. Malagisi was previously the Director of National CPAC & External Relations at the American Conservative Union, and currently serves as the president of the Young Conservatives Coalition. Malagisi can talk about the broad budget battle issues, Obamacare, and how factions within the Republican party are impacting the budget process.


Donald Williamson, director of the Masters of Science in Taxation degree program and executive director of the Kogod Tax Center, previously served as senior manager for international taxation at the National Tax Practice Office of KPMG in Washington, D.C., and as Professor-in-Residence at KPMG's Washington office. He is a certified public accountant. Williamson is can discuss the impact a government shutdown on taxpayers and taxes in general, and the political ramifications of the tax changes that might occur.

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