Some others have already posted on this phenomenon as it relates to the government shutdown.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:
The Washington Monument syndrome, also known as the Mount Rushmore Syndrome, or the firemen first principle, is a political tactic used in the United States by government agencies when faced with budget cuts or a government shutdown. The tactic entails cutting the most visible or appreciated service provided by the government, from popular services such as national parks and libraries to valued public employees such as teachers and firefighters. This is done to gain support for the restoration of budgets that lawmakers would normally be against. According to the conservative editorial magazine National Review, the name derives from the alleged bureaucratic habit of saying that budget cuts would lead to the closure of a beloved service, such as the Washington Monument. In 2008, National Review compared the tactic to hostage-taking and blackmail.
Although the strategy usually intends to highlight the government’s value to voters, it can also be aimed at lawmakers themselves. Faced with budget cuts in the 1970s, Amtrak announced plans to cease train routes in the home districts of several members of Congress.
The term was first used after George Hartzog, the seventh director of the National Park Service, closed popular national parks such as the Washington Monument and Grand Canyon National Park for two days a week in 1969. In response to complaints, Congress eventually restored the funding, and Hartzog resigned.
This fits in with the Saul Alinsky playbook and it appears the administration of Barack Obama is following it.
Photograph Copyright 2011 Jeff Quinton
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.