The Slatest

Live Shutdown Updates: The GOP Is Losing the Blame Game

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) walks through Statuary Hall to his office after a series of proceedural votes at the U.S. Captiol October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Welcome to Day 7 of the ongoing federal shutdown. The weekend came and went with—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—no signs of progress of anything to suggest that the shutdown won’t last for at least another week and more fully spill into the larger fight over the debt ceiling.

John Dickerson, Dave Weigel, Matt Yglesias, and the rest of Slate will continue to bring you in-depth analysis from Washington. But below you’ll find a running list of today’s smaller developments, rumors, links, and theories floating around inside the Beltway and out of it.

—A small sampling of Slate’s most recent shutdown coverage—

4:10 p.m.: White House Shifts Attention to Short-Term Fix, via WaPo:

For the first time, the White House said it was open to a short-term increase in the federal borrowing limit, which will be fully exhausted Oct. 17. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, say they will advance a bill this week raising the debt ceiling, perhaps through the 2014 midterm elections.

Together, the actions represent an effort to shine attention on the imminent need to raise the debt ceiling. That issue is quickly becoming the central focus in Washington, both because the government shutdown has been partially ameliorated by the recall of nearly 350,000 Pentagon workers and a potential default on the debt is far more of a threat to the economy than the shutdown.

3:15 p.m.: GOP Loses Ground in the Blame Game, via ABC News:

The Republicans in Congress have lost ground against Barack Obama in blame over the government shutdown, with Americans expressing increasing criticism of both parties in Washington, while the president’s avoided that rise in public ire.

Seventy percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of how the Republicans are handling the budget negotiations, up 7 percentage points from a week ago. Far fewer, 51 percent, disapprove of Obama’s approach, essentially unchanged in the past week. The Democrats in Congress remain between the two: Sixty-one percent disapprove of their handling of the budget breakdown, up 5 points in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

In another way to look at the results, Obama’s gone from 41-50 percent approve-disapprove last week to 45-51 percent now – a 9-point negative margin then, a similar 6-point negative margin today. The Democrats likewise show little change overall (from a 22- to a 26-point gap). But the Republicans have gone from 26-63 percent approve-disapprove to 24-70 percent, an initial 37-point difference widening now to a 46-point negative result. [See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

1:50 p.m.: Wall Street Worries, via WSJ:

Signs of heightened investor anxiety spread as the U.S. partial government shutdown entered its second week, with stocks slipping around the globe and the prices of U.S. Treasury debt and gold gaining.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 75 points, or 0.5%, to 14997 in recent trading. Treasury and gold prices rose, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s Volatility Index, a gauge of fear in the market, rose. …  Underlying optimism that a worst-case scenario will be avoided has kept moves across financial markets relatively constrained. In early trading the Dow was down nearly 152 points. The S&P 500 index shed seven points, or 0.4%, to 1684, and Nasdaq Composite Index lost 20 points, or 0.5%, to 3788.

1:27 p.m.: Obama to Boehner: Prove It on Clean CR, via Politico:

President Barack Obama called Monday on the House to hold a vote on a clean government funding bill, after Speaker John Boehner said over the weekend that the bill wouldn’t pass. If Boehner and his colleagues are saying there aren’t enough votes, “then they should prove it,” Obama said while visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington.

His comments came after Boehner said Sunday that “there are not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR,” even though various counts estimate that more than 20 Republicans would join with the vast majority of Democrats in voting in favor of a no-strings-attached funding bill. “The reason that Speaker Boehner hasn’t called a vote on it is that he doesn’t apparently want to see the government shutdown end at the moment unless he’s able to extract concessions,” Obama said.

11:20 a.m.: Finding a Face-Saver: NBC News:

Yet Boehner’s position here – Obama needs to negotiate/compromise with us – contains a central dilemma: The Tea Party folks who are clearly driving the shutdown/debt limit trains likely won’t be pleased with any negotiation or compromise, whether it’s over the president’s health-care law or a true compromise over entitlements and the sequester. (Is there any deal that isn’t the president 100% folding that can be sold to the Tea Party caucus? The answer is probably no.) So if Boehner ultimately achieves a negotiated compromise, he might find himself in the same Tea Party trouble he’s trying to avoid.

But Obama also faces a dilemma: He and his team haven’t yet answered HOW BIG of a debt-ceiling hike they’re seeking. And given that the White House must eventually answer that question, isn’t that – by definition – negotiating over the debt limit? Indeed, here is a POTENTIAL resolution to this entire stand-off: Congress could pass a clean debt-ceiling for a few months, meeting the president’s requirement of doing it without negotiating. But after that, there’s a negotiation over a longer raise (or ending the debt limit altogether), with the sequester, entitlements, etc. thrown in.

11:06 a.m.: Harry Reid Takes the Reins, via The Hill:

Reid is now fully in charge of his party’s negotiating strategy, a significant change from past showdowns with Republicans. He has taken the initiative from Obama, who played the principal role in the 2011 debt-limit talks and New Year’s fiscal cliff deal. Some Democrats on Capitol Hill are relieved by the switch.

The majority leader has brought a more pugnacious style to the debate, bashing House conservatives as “anarchists” and mocking the “Banana Republican mindset.” This is a welcome change for Democrats who thought Obama was too accommodating to Republicans during previous crises. Simply put, they believe less is more when it comes to Obama’s involvement in negotiations with the GOP.

10:30 a.m.: He’ll Take What He Can Get, via WaPo:

President Obama would accept a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, rather than a permanent one, a senior White House official said Monday, acknowledging that it may not be possible to reach agreement on a long-term increase in the federal borrowing cap before a critical Oct. 17 deadline.

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said members of Congress ultimately have the responsibility to decide how often they want to raise the debt ceiling, although he argued that an extended hike is preferable. “I think longer is better for economic certainty and jobs, but it is ultimately up to them,” Sperling said in a morning discussion hosted by Politico.

9:53 a.m.: It’s Not Smooth Sailing For All Tea Partiers Back Home, via the Washington Post:

Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts.

[In Grand Rapids, Mich.], long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.

But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. … Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts — one in the moneyed Detroit suburbs and the others in North Carolina and Tennessee — where business leaders are backing primary campaigns against Republican congressmen who have alienated party leaders. The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right.

[Weigel Responds: No, “Tea Party” Congressmen Aren’t Facing a Backlash]

9:36 a.m.: Another Week? via BusinessInsider:

BofA Merrill Lynch has lowered its Q3 and Q4 U.S. GDP forecasts on the expectation that the government shutdown will extend another week, resulting in decreased government spending and attendant “significant spillovers into the private sector.” …

“Both we and the consensus have had a baseline forecast that the government shutdown will be too short to impact 4Q GDP growth,” write BAML economists Ethan Harris and Michael Hanson in a note to clients. “However, with the shutdown approaching its one-week anniversary and with both sides digging in their heels, that assumption is looking increasingly untenable. Our forecast is quickly becoming a ‘best-case scenario’.”

Harris and Hanson expect the shutdown to persist another week for three reasons: “inside the beltway thinking,” evidenced by little change in the rhetoric out of Washington; no obvious end game surrounding the battle over Obamacare; and the lack of pressure from the stock market and the economic growth picture (as government data releases have been postponed).

9:19 a.m.: Where Things Stand After the Weekend, via Politico:

The government shutdown is lurching into a second week after a fruitless weekend on Capitol Hill. A rare Saturday session was dominated by now-familiar shutdown messaging from Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, with each side trying to blame the other for keeping the government shuttered. Even House-passed legislation that would pay federal workers prompted an angry reaction from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There were no signs of serious negotiations over the weekend, and the longer the standoff drags on the more likely the fight will bump up against the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling - setting the stage for a giant battle over fiscal policy in the coming weeks. … 

House Republican leaders did something Sunday they haven’t done in a couple weeks—send their members home. The Senate will also took a daylong breather from the partisan rancor of the Capitol. Lawmakers from both chambers are slated to return to Washington on Monday evening to resume the fight.

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Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the government shutdown