Negotiations are breaking down between the White House and Congress over funding the government, making a shutdown after April 8 look increasingly likely, The Wall Street Journal's Carol E. Lee and Janet Hook report. The budget will only fund the government for the last six months of the fiscal year, but several factors are blocking compromise.
First, House Republicans have passed a budget that would cut $61 billion from discretionary spending--meaning cuts of as much as 30 percent at some agencies--and they're reluctant to back down due to Tea Party pressure. Second, the White House is working on a proposal to cut $20 billion, which, when combined with stopgap measures that add up to $10 billion in cuts, add up to about half of what the GOP wants. But the administration hasn't figured out how to make an offer to Republicans, in part because it doesn't want to be rejected. Third, Republicans don't want to be caught making a deal with President Obama, the Journal reports. And fourth, attached to the legislation are several amendments that make Democrats' skins crawl: defunding of stuff like Obama's health care overhaul and Planned Parenthood.
The White House and Senate Democrats are hoping to shape the debate so that they look like the reasonable ones, The Hill's Erik Wasson reports. The $20 billion in cuts are intended to look like Democrats are meeting Republicans halfway, so that blame for a shutdown falls on GOP shoulders.
Hot Air's Allahpundit, a conservative, ventures that maybe this deal is worth doing. Republicans should take what cuts they can get, he writes, and then "focus all our energy on where the real money is--a balanced-budget amendment and entitlement reform, which will mean full-scale political war later this year." Compromising on Fiscal 2011 won't hurt Republicans' ability to wage "the real war for solvency"--but forcing a shutdown might, if Democrats win the war for public opinion.