At least on the PR front, the White House has begun preparing for a government shutdown this Friday even after scheduling a summit for today on the budget. Both ABC and the Washington Post get plenty of spin from unnamed sources within the administration on the impact of a shutdown today, signaling that Barack Obama wants to play hardball. Meanwhile, Republicans frustrated with a lack of action in the Senate, which has yet to pass a single version of the budget, have proposed a new one-week continuing resolution, but one that cuts $12 billion in spending:
With the clock ticking towards Friday’s federal budget deadline and President Obama hosting congressional leaders for budget talks at the White House on Tuesday, top administration officials have instructed agency officials to begin sharing details of shutdown contingency plans with top managers. This marks the next step toward both curtailing government operations if a budget impasse occurs and informing federal workers whether they are considered “essential” personnel who would stay on the job despite a shutdown.
Though Obama and congressional leaders remain committed to avoiding a shutdown, “given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by” Friday at midnight, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients said in a memo. The message was sent to the government’s deputy secretaries and chiefs of staff, who handle day-to-day management issues for agencies and departments.
OMB confirmed the authenticity of the memo, which was obtained from a senior government official who provided it on condition of anonymity.
ABC reports on the more dire consequences that the White House wants to use to put pressure on Republicans:
During the 21-day government shutdown of 1995-96, the Washington Post reported that National Zoo “Lot E didn’t have any cars, but it had piles of chunky elephant, rhino, hippo and giraffe manure. That’s when you know you got yourself a government shutdown. The manure usually is sent to a greenhouse operated by the Smithsonian Institution for composting, but during the shutdown, recycling hippo scat wasn’t deemed essential.”
The zoo this time promises that no animal waste will be stored in the parking lots, the Washington Post now reports. But the shutdown will mean parks closed, federal employees furloughed, citizens will have difficulty getting answers to any questions about Social Security benefits or Veterans’ benefits.
The economic recovery will, according to the Business Roundtable, Mark Zandi, and Goldman Sachs, be hobbled.
Curiously, Jake Tapper reports without comment the Democratic allegation that John Boehner “doesn’t want to be seen” negotiating with Obama on the budget, but the article includes this tidbit:
President Obama later this morning hosts congressional leaders at the White House to try to cobble together a compromise for a short term budget to avoid this – polls indicate that unlike with the Clinton v. Gingrich shutdown, the American people would hold Obama and Congress equally responsible for a shutdown.
Boehner will be at this meeting, which seems to negate the spin that Tapper reports here. There seems to be a lot of giraffe manure in this spin, and it’s all coming from the White House.