The chances that government will shut down when the latest continuing resolution runs out on April 8 just got a lot bigger. National Journal reports that Republican leaders have backed away from a tentative deal to cut $30 billion from fiscal 2011 spending levels -- a figure that would have met the GOP halfway on its goal of slashing $61 billion this year. The tea party wing of the party apparently still is in no mood for compromise, while Senate Democrats can't muster the votes to pass any spending bill yet.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein says that at this point, if he were betting, he'd put his money on a shutdown:
The negotiations have become too acrimonious, the issues at their heart too numerous and personal to the parties, to make a deal likely even in normal circumstances. But in circumstances in which newly elected Republicans are trying to prove to their base that they won't catch Beltway fever and compromise while Democrats are trying to prove they won't get pushed around by a party that controls a minority of the federal government? A deal seems near impossible.
On the plus side, all that's really needed in this situation is leadership on both sides. The leaders simply need to step up and inform their members that the perfect is the enemy of the good and that in the interests of efficient management of government operations, they should accept the best deal they can get and move on to next year's budget battle. Unfortunately, the leadership deficit on Capitol Hill these days is almost as big as the budget deficit.