White House Not Quite Ready to Take Shutdown-Lengthening Debt Limit Deal

The breaking news transom at the New York Times says unambiguously that President Obama has “rejected” the Republican proposal to extend the debt limit by six weeks. A House Republican aide tells me that the two sides are still talking. The official readout: “The President and leaders agreed that communication should continue throughout the night.”

But the White House is sounding warier than it did this morning, and the new NBC/WSJ poll is the kind of rocket sauce that might convince them to keep turning the screws into Boehner. (Well, also into furloughed workers and kids with cancer and all the rest of that.)

Among the trends that favor the president:

- By a 22-point margin, voters say that Republicans are more to blame for the shutdown than the president is. That’s a greater margin than ever separated Republicans from Bill Clinton during the last shutdown.

- The president’s approval rating is up marginally to 47 percent—still a bit underwater, but back to the pre-Syria mediocrity of the early summer.

- Seventy percent of voters agree when asked whether Republicans “are putting their own political agenda ahead of what is good for the country.”

- The favorable rating of the Republican Party has fallen from 28 percent in September to 24 percent now. This is the lowest rating for the GOP in the poll’s 24-year history.

- By an 8-point margin, voters agree with the statement “Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people.” This is the highest majority for that idea since February 2009.

Among the trends that don’t? Well, 60 percent of people say, if given the choice, they’d fire their congressman—an always-useless poll result, as if the majority of members from safe seats will lose next year. If you were a cynical Democratic operative, would you prefer to take a Republican offer to extend the debt limit while negotiating the CR for weeks, or would you hold out until they pass “clean” extensions for both the CR and debt limit? Easy choice, isn’t it?

Update: Jonathan Strong reports back from the meeting, with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers confirming that Obamacare didn’t really come up.* The fade continues.

*Correction, Oct. 10, 2013: This post originally misspelled Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers’ last name.