The idea that a president should ultimately defer to Congress on prudential questions about spending is the sort of thing that sounds like wisdom if you happen to side with the opposition. It is also the attitude that ensures that government shutdowns are going to become a regular feature of American politics. As long as Congress holds the power of the purse there will be disagreements with the White House over budgets. These disagreements are frequently intractable.
There is, of course, another possibility, one that would prevent shutdowns from ever taking place. We could simply invest the executive with the power to approve funding for federal agencies if Congress does not present him with a budget. Perhaps as I write this, the White House counsel is discovering that this very power already lurks somewhere in the dense verbal jungles of Article II of the Constitution. It would certainly be in keeping with the seemingly irreversible trends towards the concentration of power in the executive branch and the transformation of the American system into a kind of Westminister-lite arrangement. Would this be such a bad thing?