Boehner and the GOP have floated a stopgap spending measure, which includes deep cuts, to buy Congress another week to negotiate -- but Democrats and the White House have rejected that plan.
A spokesman for Reid told reporters during a Senate vote that Boehner moved the goalposts in Tuesday's White House meeting. Republicans are now positing $40 billion in cuts as a possible target for a deal -- up a few billion from the range of cuts that had marked the negotiations for about two weeks. Democrats are not accepting that figure.
"They're saying they won't agree to anything unless they get 218 Republican votes," Reid told reporters at his weekly press availability after returning from the White House.
Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel flatly denied this charge.
I don't buy it. There are three reasons why:
1) The corporate Powers That Be don't like it. If there's any single constant in the political universe right now, it's that the GOP will always serve their corporate masters. A government shutdown on indeterminate length would create major uncertainty in the markets. The markets don't like this. The big corporations like their status quo, and they like their corporate subsidies. Throw a shutdown into the revenue stream and we start having to worry about when people who do government work get paid. The big multi-nationals feeding at the government trough aren't going to be too keen on that.
2) The Democrats have folded every poker hand so far. President Obama says no more extensions, but it hasn't stopped the Dems from folding on tens of billions of cuts so far. Every time the Dems offer cuts, the GOP takes it, but it forces another confrontation down the line. So far, the GOP has gotten the Democrats to give in every time, for shorter and shorter continuing resolutions and more and more cuts in programs. What makes this time any different? The Republicans are winning and the more cunning ones know it. Why shut down the government when you get what you want from the mere threat of shutdown?
3) The Republicans want to avoid stuff like this:
House Republicans huddled late Monday and, according to a GOP aide, gave the speaker an ovation when he informed them that he was advising the House Administration Committee to begin preparing for a possible shutdown. That process includes alerting lawmakers and senior staff about which employees would not report to work if no agreement is reached.
Republicans know they only keep winning as long as they can keep the Tea Party nutjobs in check. If they refuse to play ball and force a shutdown, proudly proclaiming that they are the ones behind it, then it's 1995 all over again and the GOP knows it.
The question is now if Orange Julius an company have miscalculated and lost control of Teabaggenstein's Monster. If that's the case and the GOP has pushed things too far, too quickly, then there could be a shutdown as early as this weekend. Hey, nobody said the Republicans know when to cut their losses. A smart Boehner would have taken the Senate Dems deal.
But if he has lost control of this far right, then he's screwed. Ask Newtie how that turned out.