Budget battle: Both sides dig in

The partial government shutdown marks its first week today.


Appearing on Sunday news talk shows, House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, leader of tea party forces in Congress, showed no sign of retreat, saying there will be no settlement without significant concessions from President Barack Obama and the Democrats. Leading Democrats, also appearing on TV, gave no ground. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called the Republican position “irresponsible and reckless,” and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he believes that sooner or later, Boehner will “have to back off.”


There is renewed concern that the two sides will not only fail to reach an agreement on a short-term funding bill ending the shutdown, but that they will also miss a mid-October deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling, resulting in a default on the government’s obligations. Democrats and moderate Republicans warn that a default — the first in U.S. history — could lead to economic chaos,. But Cruz said he believes that winning budget-cutting concessions and measures to “mitigate the harm from Obamacare” should be the top priority.


Both sides are launching a TV and radio-ad driven messaging war in an effort to sway public opinion. Amid the uncompromising rhetoric, it seems unlikely either the Republicans or Democrats will simply give in, handing the other side a victory. It may still be possible to find some kind of face-saving middle ground, with both sides making largely symbolic concessions. But it could take a dramatic reminder of the risks of inaction — such as a stock market plunge on fears of a default — to force renewed negotiations.

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