At least one top official in the Obama administration believes that a government shutdown could be inevitable, nay, necessary if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on a long-term spending deal. From Talking Points Memo [emphasis added]:
A senior Treasury department official told reporters Thursday that a brief government shutdown may be unavoidable as the only feasible way to de-escalate the confrontation over government spending dividing Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. The official said the administration still hopes to avoid such a flashpoint because of the impact it would have on the economy, but added that President Obama will not sign short-term stop-gap government funding measures in perpetuity.
The comments were made in a briefing with reporters conducted on deep background, meaning no direct quotes could be attributed to the official.
The official’s remarks represent the most serious indication yet that the administration is willing to endure a short term shutdown despite the unknown political costs, to focus congressional leadership on brokering a long-term deal. But they also come at a time of ongoing negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans, and are a signal that the administration isn’t resigned to getting rolled by the GOP. Whether that’s tough talk designed to move negotiations, a bluff, or an indication that the White House is prepared to go the brink on this remains to be seen.
In other words, Obama might be willing to pull the plug himself, and soon, if Congress fails to iron out a compromise. House Republicans are about to unveil a 3-week spending resolution (with around $6 billion in spending cuts) to keep the government running after the current resolution expires on March 18.
Another example of what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) described to NRO as the “post-modern, through the looking glass” leadership style of this president.
Obama could simply join the debate, publicly, as Republicans and Democrats are now begging him to do. Instead, he is literally threatening to shut the government down — after months of spouting doom-and-gloom rhetoric about the potential consequences — as a way to de-escalate the conflict. Go figure.