Shutdown Forecast: 50-50

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • LOOKING FOR PROGRESS IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES: On "Good Morning America" today ABC's JONATHAN KARL put the chances of a shutdown - or a catastrophic default - at 50-50. "As that clock ticks down toward shutdown there is no real sign of progress anywhere," Karl said. "The chances are getting greater with each passing hour. … Leaders in both parties that I've spoken to both think that a shutdown is more likely than not. I would put the odds of a shutdown or default at 50-50 … and I may be being optimistic."
  • WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Around 12:30 p.m. today, the Senate will start its votes and wrap up its work on the amended continuing resolution to keep the government funded, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Senate leadership was able to work out a deal on accelerating the time-frame for a vote to Friday instead of Sunday so the House could have more time to work on a plan. The House will vote on their amended continuing resolution on Saturday or Sunday. But the Senate has warned it will only accept a so-called "clean CR," something the House has not indicated they will agree to.
  • OBAMA - GOP IS TRYING TO 'BLACKMAIL' ME: President Obama yesterday accused Republicans of political extortion, saying they are trying to "blackmail a president" by threatening to shut down the government or refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless he agrees to gut his signature health care law, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Making a sales pitch for Obamacare before a crowd of students in Maryland, the president said that critics of the Affordable Care Act have become "more irresponsible" as implementation approaches. "Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can't shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America's bills if they can't delay the law. That's not going to happen as long as long as I'm president," he said to cheers at Prince George's Community College. "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay."
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': With a looming government shutdown just days away, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS goes one-on-one with former President Bill Clinton on the budget battles in Washington and his latest work with the Clinton Global Initiative, in a Sunday exclusive. And our powerhouse roundtable tackles all the week's politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: These are dangerous political times for all involved. Republicans are currently convincing themselves that they may be better suited to fight things out over the debt ceiling instead of a government shutdown. (Raising the stakes after drawing a bad hand?) The White House is currently convincing itself that the only thing to be sure of is that Republicans will fold, not once but twice. (Won't there be blame enough to go around if either of the bad things on the horizon happen?) This crisis has been marked by a surprising lack of leadership - of caution, half-steps, missteps, and sometimes no steps at all. It's a leadership moment for somebody, maybe from an unexpected corner, to navigate these next few months without everybody going bust.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The huffing-and-puffing you hear on the Senate floor will draw to a close after an early-afternoon vote on a plan to keep the government running when the fiscal year ends Monday night. But then what? In the House, that's a question with no clear answer. Will House Republicans add a provision trying to delay the individual mandate of Obamacare by a year? Will they try to eliminate subsidies on health insurance for themselves and their staffs? Will they try killing the tax on medical devices? There's disagreement on what to do before sending the bill back to the Senate. But even as the clock keeps ticking, there is still widespread belief a government shutdown won't happen - or if it does, it will be for hours, not days or weeks.


CAPITOL HILL'S 40 UNDER 40: WILL YOUTH INVASION CHANGE WASHINGTON? Can youth and relative inexperience be virtues? Illinois Republican Aaron Schock and Hawaiian Democrat Tulsi Gabbard are making the case that they can be - at least when it comes to getting things done on Capitol Hill. The two members of Congress, both in their thirties, are recruiting Congress' 40 members under the age of 40 to join their newly launched "Congressional Future Caucus." "It's bringing together the freshest faces in Washington, DC and the Congress," Schock told "Top Line's" RICK KLEIN of the new caucus in a joint interview with Gabbard on the steps of the Capitol. "When most of America looks at Washington, DC, they look at a much older, much grayer Congress, and we're excited that there are now 40 members under the age of 40 and we can hopefully get some things done," Schock said. Gabbard says she's observed that that younger, newer members of Congress tend to have a different mindset than some of their older colleagues who've been in Congress for a longer period of time. "What we're seeing generationally, that is now being reflected in Congress, because we have more members who are younger, is an impatience, an unwillingness to just wait around and expect things will change," she said. WATCH:


BILL CLINTON CALLS PARTS OF HOUSE GOP PROPOSAL TO RAISE DEBT CEILING 'CHILLING,' 'SPITEFUL'. During an interview for "This Week" airing Sunday, former President Bill Clinton called parts of the reported House GOP proposal to raise the debt ceiling "chilling" and "almost spiteful" in the way that it would impact low-income Americans, according to ABC's BEN BELL. "If I were the president, I wouldn't negotiate over these draconian cuts that are going to take food off the table of low-income working people, while they leave all the agricultural subsidies in for high-income farmers and everything else. I just think it's - it's chilling to me," Clinton told ABC News' GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS in an interview this morning in New York. "It seems almost spiteful," he added. Clinton, speaking to Stephanopoulos during the annual Clinton Global Initiative, asserted that House Republicans were attempting to strong-arm President Obama and advised him to not change course. The president has said repeatedly that he would not negotiate with Congress over raising of the debt ceiling. "This is the House Republicans and the Tea Party people saying, 'We don't want to negotiate with the Democrats. … We want to dictate over the Senate, over the House Democrats, over the Speaker of the House of our own party and over the president,'" the former president said.

REPUBLICANS CLASH ON SENATE FLOOR OVER GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. Tension spilled over on the Senate floor Thursday as lawmakers squabbled over the timing of a vote to avert a government shutdown, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and JEFF ZELENY report. But it wasn't a Democrat vs. Republican fight. It was Republican vs. Republican. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to accelerate consideration of the continuing resolution by setting a vote for Thursday night. But Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, objected, prompting Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to accuse the Texas senator of trying to gin up publicity over the vote. "I'm understanding the reason we're waiting is that y'all have sent out [press releases] and e-mails and you want everybody to be able to watch," Corker said. "It just doesn't seem to me that that's in our nation's interest." Cruz turned the tables on Corker, saying the Tennessee senator's vote on cloture on Friday will align with Democrats. Cloture is the procedure to bring a debate to a close, allowing a vote to take place. "Why is Majority Leader Harry Reid going to vote the same way you're proposing to vote? Why is every Democrat in this chamber going to vote the way you're proposing to vote?" Cruz asked.

NOTED: House Speaker John Boehner told reporters yesterday he does not intend to accept the bill as amended by the Senate, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. "The American people don't want the president's health care bill, and they don't want the government to shut down," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Republicans are listening. We passed a bill last week that would do just what the American people have asked. It's time for the Senate to listen and pass the bill that we've sent over there." Given the political risks that come with a prolonged political ping pong match, Boehner was questioned whether he concedes that the government is headed for a shutdown next week. "No, I do not," he insisted. "No, I do not expect that to happen."

WENDY DAVIS TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR OF TEXAS. Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator who catapulted from obscurity to fame with her more than 11-hour filibuster, will run for governor, according to Texas and Democratic Party officials, ABC's RICK KLEIN and ABBY PHILLIP report. Davis began informing Democratic officials in D.C. and Texas of her decision yesterday, but a formal announcement is planned for Oct. 3 in Texas. Davis, 50, has been encouraged by Democrats to launch her gubernatorial bid after she rallied the party's base with her attempt to block an anti-abortion bill from passing in the state legislature in June. She initially succeeded in blocking the bill, but it eventually passed in a second special session called by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Many Democrats in Texas and nationally view Davis as the party's best chance to compete in a state that has not elected a Democrat as governor since Ann Richards was elected in 1990. Richards, the second female governor of the state, is also the mother of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Davis would face Attorney General Gregg Abbott in what is likely to be an expensive and potentially bitter race.

CORY BOOKER NOT BLUSHING AFTER TWITTER BANTER WITH STRIPPER. Cory Booker's senatorial campaign is shrugging off revelations that the constantly-tweeting Newark mayor had Twitter exchanges, including direct messages, with a Portland, Ore., stripper, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. The Twitter banter between the stripper, Lynsie Lee, who works at a vegan strip club called Caso Diablo, and Booker was first reported by Buzzfeed Wednesday. At a news conference Thursday, Booker said he communicates with people who send "kindness" his way and he doesn't "study peoples' profile(s)." "That's really what this is, is me responding to people, which I do every single day," he said. "And frankly, finally, I just have to say, it is all about just that, is about listening to people and engaging with people no matter what their profession. "I've tweeted people back from all different backgrounds," he added. "It's not something I pay attention to. But when somebody's kind to me, I often say thank you." Booker added that his Twitter behavior leads him to "talk to everybody." "It's the way we should be in public life," Booker said. "And casting judgment on folks because of what they do is unacceptable to me and I'm going to continue being me - this doesn't change that at all - and continue talking to everybody. It's what I do in Newark."

ERIC HOLDER CALLS SCOURGE OF YOUTH VIOLENCE 'TOO GREAT TO IGNORE'. Eric Holder issued an urgent call to action on the problem of youth violence in America on Thursday, speaking not only as the attorney general but also "as the father of three wonderful kids." Holder, who headlined the National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence, a two-day summit in Crystal City, Va., said he considered tackling the challenge "a personal priority," ABC's MARY ALICE PARKS notes. Speaking to a crowd of U.S. attorneys, members of Congress, community leaders and youth representatives from across the country, he acknowledged that "resources are scare," and said that issues of violence and trauma must be addressed not only with national policy, but also with changes at the community and family level. "Our actions must be rooted first and foremost in what we can accomplish as parents, as friends, as mentors, as advocates, as scout leaders, as little league coaches," Holder said. "Our records will only be successful if we can ensure that our kids grow up in neighborhoods where adults reach out to them."

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH USES GOLF TOURNAMENT TO HELP WOUNDED VETERANS. Former President George W. Bush kicks off the third annual Warrior Open golf tournament that features 24 wounded combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The annual event is one of Bush's few public outings as he's enjoyed a busy private life that recently included a health scare and the birth of his first grandchild. The Warrior Open is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that ends Saturday in Irving, Texas. The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the war on terror during post 9/11 combat. "The example of these folks out here today is an important example for our fellow citizens," Bush told ABC News' JOSH ELLIOTT. "You can either be defeated or defeat your injury. They all have chosen to defeat." The golf outing is one of the signature events the Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative holds to honor the troops and encourage veterans who are using sports in their recovery.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN TAKES THE "THIS WEEK" QUIZ: We asked Soledad O'Brien to fill out our show quiz when she was on "This Week" last month. Find out the one thing she can't live without and her guilty pleasure. Here are her handwritten answers and be sure to tweet us @ThisWeekABC and tell us who you'd like to be our next participant:


PENTAGON VIDEO: MILITARY GAY COUPLES CELEBRATE SPOUSAL BENEFITS. Nearly two years after the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was repealed and months after the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex military spouses are getting a small-but official-sign that the days of hiding their sexual preferences in the military are over, ABC's NICKI ROSSOLL notes. Yesterday, the Department of Defense released a new video highlighting same-sex couples receiving military ID cards and spousal benefits for the first time. Military identification cards allow spouses to access important military benefits like medical care; housing allowances; access to commissaries; exchanges; morale, welfare and recreation programs. The video follows Senior Chief Dwayne Beebe-Franqui and his partner Jonathan Beebe-Franqui on their journey to receive spousal benefits and use them for the first time.


@Schultz44: New WH White Board breaks down what #Obamacare means for normal Americans (ie everyone outside the beltway)

@joshtpm: Poll: More People Opposed To 'Obamacare' Than 'Affordable Care Act' …

@thegarance: Kentucky Gov. on anti-ACA: "It is the law of the land. Get over it…and get out of the way so I can help my people"

@AdorableCareAct: RT to spread the word-healthcare till age 26 is good for cute kittens and human kids alike!

@jeneps: would've been clever for the White House or OFA to do it, but neither is behind @AdorableCareAct