Budget Battle: Is the Government on the Brink of a Shutdown?


"I think the American people are ready for a fight," Walsh said. "They're ready for a debate on Obamacare. So you know what, if we want to have this all out right now on funding Obamacare, let's do it. I think it's worth it."

Democrats argue that Republicans are injecting their own pork projects without compromising on any of their interests.

The GOP measures "essentially are efforts to impose a right-wing social agenda through the budget," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said on MSNBC Friday. "The position Republicans seem to be taking is you've got to cut from our menu. In other words, we're not going to consider tax breaks for the oil companies, or we're not going to consider some of the other pork in the tax -- you've got to look at our menu only. And that's not going to be acceptable."

Republicans counter by saying that they haven't seen any concrete proposals from Senate Democrats and President Obama, even though the House passed its continuing resolution more than a month ago.

"The White House has been absent when it comes to the real tough spending issues like entitlement reform," Walsh said. "He should be ashamed of himself."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks on a thin rope this week as the deadline to pass a continuing resolution slowly creeps closer. On the one hand, he has to forge a compromise. On the other, the newly-minted speaker faces increasing pressure from the Tea Party wing of his party to stick firm to principles.

The leadership "personally, I don't think they're strong enough. I think the American public is looking for more," Meckler said. "We're hoping to see them stick to their spine. At a minimum, they ought to stand behind their own CR."

Though he has emphasized that shutting down the government is not the goal, Boehner is placing the blame squarely on Senate Democrats.

Even so, the prospects of a government shutdown hardly are comforting to either side.

The partial government shutdown of 1996 -- the last time it happened -- was hugely unpopular and Republicans, who were in the majority in Congress, took most of the blame.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted shortly after the nearly three-week partial shutdown ended, 75 percent of Americans said it had been a "bad thing" and 50 percent of Americans blamed the Republicans in Congress. Only 27 percent said President Clinton's administration was to blame.

This time, however, the politics at play are vastly different and Republicans -- fuelled by Tea Party fervor -- are confident if a shutdown were to happen, it wouldn't be as detrimental to their party as the last time around.

"If shutting down the government is what it takes to wake the other side up to get us on the appropriate path, then maybe it is a good thing," Walsh said. "I hope we don't get to that point, but if that's what it takes for the other side to join us, then maybe it's a very helpful thing."

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