The Washington air is filled with “frank and constructive” discussions, as President Obama described the. “No one wants a shutdown,” said House Speaker John Boehner. “We’ve narrowed the issues significantly,” said Crypt Keeper Harry Reid.
And yet, we’re still on schedule for doomsday on Friday night. A White House source told CNN that despite all the encouraging public statements, “there was almost no progress made” last night.
Republicans have proposed a short-term spending plan that would keep the government running for another week, and the military funded for the rest of the year, with $12 billion in cuts thrown in. Boehner thinks this plan “is the responsible thing to do,” and “would hope the Senate can pass it and the President would sign it into law.” Well, we’ve had a government running on “hope” for two years now, Mr. Boehner, and look where it’s gotten us.
House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News he’s got enough Republican support to pass the one-week extension without any Democrat votes, but the same cannot be said of the Senate.
The Democrats are obviously nervous about watching their beautiful $3.6 trillion government disappear ten or twelve billion dollars at a time, especially when the absolutely vital national priority of forcing taxpayers to fund abortions is threatened. The current compromise doesn’t include the sweeping measures to eliminate federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood that Republicans have been talking about, but according to the Politico, it does have a provision “preventing both federal and local funds from being used to provide abortions in the District of Columbia,” and we can’t have that, even if we’ve got to shut down the government and stop paying our troops their salaries.
Of course, even if all of these frank and constructive talks produce a deal in the next 48 hours, that just buys us another week. President Obama has been complaining that this series of temporary resolutions makes it difficult for federal agencies to plan ahead – which is an entirely reasonable observation, no matter what you think of the agencies in question.
It’s fun to watch Democrats scream in horror at the thought of reducing our $1.3 trillion deficit by one half of one percent every couple of weeks, but at some point we need a real budget… not least because reducing the deficit at that speed isn’t good enough to hold off disaster in the long term. However, the Democrats have made it clear they’ll fight to the death instead of accepting the Republican budget that cuts $61 billion from the budget, thus reducing the deficit by an agonizing 4%.
Both sides are circling the “shutdown” and trying to decide who will be blamed, and how bad the public will think shutting down the government is. The worst-case scenario for Democrats in the long run would be people deciding it’s not that bad, so we have the President sobbing about children being unable to visit national parks, and assuring us it “could have real effects on everyday Americans” if Mama Government slips into a coma. The shutdown clock ticks onward.