As we write this (a little before 8 a.m. on Friday morning), the Democrats In Washington D.C., led by the President himself, have decided that they can capitulate no more to the growing demands of House Republicans as a government shutdown beckons tonight at midnight.
As those of you following the negotiations are aware of, the central disagreements between the D's and R's involved about $7 billion in more cuts to the fiscal year 2011 budget, and barring federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the national network of 800 women's health centers - which the GOP wants to defund because some of those centers offer abortions - even though they are not paid with any federal funds.
The pressure today isn't really on President Obama anymore. He and his party leaders in the House and Senate have bent significantly to the GOP in terms of spending cuts, to where they now have agreed to $33 billion in spending cuts, which originally was what House Republicans had demanded.
But tea party activists want more, much more, putting significant pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, who yesterday insisted on ABC's Good Morning America that there was "no daylight" between himself and his caucus of tea party members, as the deadline for a government shutdown loomed ominously close.
You don't think that the Republicans are the ones being unfair in asking for more demands? Even their best friend in the mainstream media, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, says they take the victory and settle before the clock strikes midnight tonight, writing:
We're not sure what the GOP strategy is at this point, if its leaders even have one. Even $33 billion in genuine cuts would reduce the budget baseline and leverage much greater cuts in future years. Republicans run the risk of going to the mattresses in pursuit of relatively small additional gains that they may not get in any case.
We understand that some in the tea party and certain cable TV hosts want a government shutdown for their own reasons. But these are the same cable pundits who insist that even though $61 billion in cuts are trivial, Republicans should still shut down the government to get them. Self-contradiction is not a sound political strategy.
Republicans also say that if they back down now they'll have no credibility for the bigger fights to come over the debt limit and Congressman Paul Ryan's 2012 limit. We think the opposite is more likely. Republicans will have more credibility over fights that really matter if they show they're willing to compromise now. And if Republicans back down next week after a shutdown begins, as they did in 1995, they will look even worse to their own supporters and have squandered even more political capital for very little return.
Meanwhile an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported on Thursday that 68 percent of self described tea partiers do not want the GOP to compromise. But that same poll shows among political independents, who are critical swing votes in any election, want GOP lawmakers to find compromise, by a 66 to 30 percent margin.
Meanwhile, listed below (courtesy of Senator Bill Nelson's offices) are services that would be affected if the feds shut down tonight: