Shutdown Countdown: The One Way Out

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • THE BALL'S IN BOEHNER'S COURT: ABC's JONATHAN KARL noted on "Good Morning America" today: "By taking the day off yesterday and not coming in until this afternoon, Senate Democrats have effectively run out the clock on this latest shutdown showdown. This now leaves one path to averting a government shutdown: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would have to waive the white flag of surrender and have the House vote on a clean government funding bill with the no Obamacare strings attached. Make no mistake: there are plenty of votes to pass such a bill because it would be supported by virtually all Democrats and a large group of Republicans who believe a shutdown would be bad for the country and bad for their party. But Boehner would be defying his party's hard-core conservatives if he moves forward with a clean bill and they would accuse him of betrayal."
  • BOTTOM LINE: Karl notes: "Although there is no sign yet that Boehner is ready to surrender, passing a clean temporary funding bill was his plan all along. He had intended to fight his battles later this fall over the debt ceiling and the sequester. He has been forced into this showdown by his party's conservative flank and, of course, Senator Ted Cruz, who has done more to steer the agenda of the House over the past two weeks than the Speaker."
  • HAPPENING TODAY: The Senate is expected this afternoon to formally reject the latest government funding measure passed by the House early Sunday morning because it includes the one-year delay of Obamacare. That would put the ball back in the court of House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans with just hours to go to reach a deal before the midnight deadline.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: O.K., John Boehner, it's on you now. The House speaker's calculation - to the extent he had a choice - is that it's better to show than to tell when it comes to the consequences of a government shutdown. He and his colleagues can rightly complain that Senate Democrats wasted yesterday running out the clock, but that didn't change the scoreboard. The question was always going to fall on Boehner and his allies, and they'll have mere hours today to decide for a final time whether they want a government shutdown on their records. The optimistic take: This makes it less likely that we'll blow past the debt ceiling in a few weeks' time. That's one where showing comes with untold consequences, and the speaker of the House of Representatives knows it.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The brink is here. The only thing preventing a shutdown at this point is an emergency, short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running. But don't count on it. Speaker Boehner never wanted it to work out this way - he tried to lead his fellow Republicans away from this point several times - but then decided the only path to keeping his team together was to follow the loud rallying cry against Obamacare. The political fallout from a long shutdown is unmistakably bad for Republicans, but the thinking among the top circle of advisers is that a brief shutdown is defensible - at least to the electorate in the 2014 midterms. But a bigger question looms as this fight ultimately moves to the debt ceiling debate: Have the GOP hard-liners in the House been satisfied - or empowered - by this battle?

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, may be the voice and the face of this shutdown showdown, but Sarah Palin is lending her voice to the fight that will likely lead to a government shutdown at midnight tonight. In an op-ed on she is assuring that she and others who would rather see a shutdown than any compromise on Obamacare will remember when it comes to next year's midterms: "2014 is just around the corner, and we're ready for it. Support those who do us a favor by flushing out politicians wanting to hide. Retrieving liberty must be the point in all this." She names and thanks the Republican senators who backed Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in their effort to defund Obamacare in exchange for funding the government, and with the shutdown just hours away urges Republicans to stand firm: "You fight as hard as you can with whatever small edge you've got until the other guy respects you enough to wise up, sit down, and come to a mutually acceptable agreement. You get nothing at all if you preemptively surrender before the battle even commences." Of course what this doesn't take into account is a CNN/ORC poll out today that shows Republicans over the President would get the blame for a government shutdown 46 percent to 13 percent. And when it comes to who is acting more like "spoiled children," the poll shows 58 percent say congressional Democrats and 69 percent say Republicans.


WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN? Without a last-minute breakthrough, a partial shutdown will take effect at midnight tonight, closing some government offices and slowing down services, ABC's DEVIN DWYER and JONATHAN KARL note. The biggest impact will be felt by 800,000 "non-essential" federal workers, who will be told not to show up to work and will see their paychecks cut off. Staffing cutbacks at federal agencies could delay processing of first-time home mortgages, lead to longer airport security lines and limit food safety inspections. All national parks, forests and monuments, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and the Smokey Mountains, will be closed. Processing of new and renewal applications for passports will cease. At border crossings, there will be fewer agents to process travelers and secure checkpoints. Many military service members, including the more than 1.3 million active duty troops, are considered "essential" and will remain on the job, but they likely won't be getting paychecks until an agreement is reached in Congress. Still, many government benefits and services will continue during a partial shutdown. The Social Security Administration will continue to write checks to retirees, and because the Postal Service will stay open, those checks will still get delivered along with everyday bills. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries will still be covered by government plans, even thought nearly half the employees of the Department of Health and Human Services will be furloughed.

-WHO GETS THE BILL? Members of Congress and the president will keep getting paid, even if the government shuts down. Taxpayers, however, could get slapped with a hefty bill. The White House estimates the overall cost of a government shutdown could reach $2 billion.

-H OW DOES THIS IMPACT THE NEXT FISCAL FIGHT? That's when the nation's borrowing limit must be raised by Oct. 17 to avoid default. ABC's JEFF ZELENY: "That's the most worrisome question of all to leaders across Washington. The optimistic scenario is that this latest bruising episode of fighting - Republican v. Republican and House v. Senate - may have let out enough steam to satisfy conservative activists. That could give Boehner a stronger hand to play among his fellow Republicans when he asks for their help to keep the country from default. But that is very much an open question. And the debt limit fight has far deeper economic consequences."

TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama hosts Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Just days after Obama's historic phone call with Rouhani, Iran's nuclear program and its new diplomatic overtures are expected to top the agenda at today's meeting. Other topics for discussion include negotiations with the Palestinians and developments in Syria, according to the White House. In the afternoon, the president shifts his focus to the looming shutdown. At 4:45 pm he meets with his Cabinet at the White House. There will be a pool spray at the top of their meeting in the Cabinet Room.

BILL CLINTON SAYS GOP 'BEGGING FOR AMERICA TO FAIL.' The Republican Party is "begging for America to fail" by rooting for President Obama's signature health care law to fail, former President Bill Clinton said during an interview for "This Week" with ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, "I've never seen a time - can you remember a time in your lifetime when a major political party was just sitting around, begging for America to fail … I don't know what's going to happen. But I'll be shocked if it fails," Clinton, who attempted during his first term as president to overhaul the country's healthcare system in the early 1990s, said during an interview taped Thursday in New York while the annual Clinton Global Initiative was taking place. A recent ABC News-Washington Post-poll found that more than half of Americans are opposed to the Affordable Care Act. But for his part, Clinton is optimistic that with time, the law - known more commonly as "Obamacare" - will grow in popularity. "I just think that when all these dire predictions don't come out, if they don't - I believe that pretty soon, within the next several years, this'll be like Medicare and Medicaid. And it'll be a normal part of our life. And people will be glad it's there," the former president told ABC News.

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: HOLOCAUST A 'HEINOUS CRIME' AND A 'GENOCIDE'. In an exclusive interview this morning on "This Week," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the Holocaust as a "heinous crime" and a "genocide," dismissing as a poor translation the appearance of the word "myth" about the Holocaust on the Iranian Supreme Leader's English website, ABC's IMTIYAZ DELAWALA notes. Iran has been criticized in recent years for the words of its former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who often denied the existence of the Holocaust, while the phrase "the myth of the massacre of Jews" appears in a translation of a speech from February 2006 by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamanei. "The Holocaust is not a myth. Nobody's talking about a myth," Zarif told GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on "This Week" Sunday when asked about the quote. "If it's there … it's a bad translation, and it's translated out of context… This is the problem when you translate something from Persian to English, you may lose something, as the film goes, 'Lost in Translation,' you may lose some of the meaning." Zarif used his condemnation of the Holocaust to segue into a critique of Israel, which he characterized as the aggressor in the Middle East.

PAUL KRUGMAN ON 'GREEN EGGS AND HAM' AND TED CRUZ. New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman shared some additional thoughts following his appearance on the "This Week" roundtable on Sunday: "One point I also really wanted to get in was the irony - which a number of bloggers noted - of Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs And Ham." The punchline of that book, after all, is that when Sam-I-Am finally gets the speaker to try green eggs and ham, it turns out that he loves them. That is what's going to happen when Obamacare goes into effect. By 2016 people won't be listening to propaganda; they'll know about their niece who couldn't afford insurance but now can, their brother-in-law who couldn't get insurance because of a preexisting condition but now can, their friend whose illness would have meant financial catastrophe but for Obamacare. It's going to be good. And that's what thoughtful Republicans - if such creatures exist - should be afraid of."


RETURN OF THE DEATH STAR: THE PERILS OF LETTING SOCIAL MEDIA INTO THE WHITE HOUSE. Former White House Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips sees potential for the White House to communicate effectively in even the darkest corners of the Internet. He says the infamous "Death Star" petition to the White House resulted in more than just a clever official White House response. "We put into our answer all the things that, in fact, we were investing in," Phillips told ABC's JONATHAN KARL. "There's a program that NASA puts out called Spot the Station, that if you sign up, when the U.S. space station is above you, you get a text message. "That's a program that got 10,000 click-throughs through our petition response," he said. Phillips first joined the Obama campaign in 2008 and has since led digital innovations in the White House such as Twitter Town Halls, Reddit "Ask Me Anythings" and Google Hangouts. Under Phillips, the White House launched "We the People," a site where citizens can create online petitions directly to the White House. If a petition gets enough support within a certain timeframe, the White House will issue an official response. To hear more about Phillips' digital endeavors in the White House, including the most popular questions during Obama's Twitter town hall, check out this episode of "Politics Confidential."


@DanH_TIME: Heritage "has been working day & night for years to bring about just the crisis now gripping DC" @ZekeJMiller writes …

@eilperin: How would a shutdown squeeze the WH? I explain it here:

?@JimAcostaCNN: DNC web video shows Boehner in March: "trying to put Obamacare on this vehicle risks shutting down the government"

@jmartNYT: Warren '16 buzz organically taking off on liberal list-servs, conf calls & whenever progressive activists meet …

@HuffPostMedia: Director Charles Ferguson announces he is shutting down his CNN documentary on Hillary Clinton …