TPM News

After a White House meeting with President Obama Tuesday, leaders on Capitol Hill and their aides made it clear that they've reached an impasse in the spending cut fight, and see no way around it.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will put their heads together this afternoon in a private meeting at the Capitol to try to find common ground. And Obama, wading deeper into the government shutdown thicket than ever before, said at an unscheduled press conference that he'd bring the two leaders back to the White House Wednesday if they can't come to an understanding tonight.

But both Republicans and Democrats say it's not looking good.

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President Obama strongly scolded congressional Republicans on their failure so far to reach a budget compromise that would avert a government shutdown by the end of the week, instructing them to start acting like "grown-ups" and to stop playing political games.

"We don't have time for games," he told reporters during a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. "We don't have time to score political points."

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Newt Gingrich hasn't officially thrown his hat into the 2012 race, but if he were to get in, and indeed win the Republican presidential nomination, he wouldn't get much of a home state advantage in a general election against President Obama, according to a new PPP poll.

In that poll of registered voters, Obama topped Gingrich 46%-45% in a head-to-head matchup in Georgia, the state Gingrich represented for two decades in the House. Further, 50% said they didn't think Gingrich should run for president in the first place, while only 31% said he should.

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House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them might be slow to accrue supporters within his own party, but Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), a key swing vote in the Senate, indicated to TPM on Tuesday he was at least open to the idea.

"Listen, everything is on the table right now and the people understand everything is on the table," he said when asked by TPM if he had concerns about privatizing and cutting Medicare. "People recognize that we're in a financial emergency and as a result of that to say that something is not on the table is really irresponsible and I'm thankful that we have people like Congressman Ryan working and coming up with a plan."

Nonetheless, Brown suggested Republican leaders' efforts would be better spent preventing a government shutdown this week than debating new entitlement plans.

"I'm appreciative that they're finally taking debt and deficit and spending cuts seriously, but let's be real: we should be focusing on funding the government," he said. "It's great to talk about next year, but how about this week? How about getting the leadership together and just focusing on funding the government and doing what the American people expect us to do?"

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested Tuesday he doubts the spending cut fight will be resolved before funding for the government expires on April 8. If he's right, either some emergency legislation will need to pass to keep the lights on, or the government will shut down, he said.

Asked at his weekly Capitol briefing whether he'd be prepared to expedite passage of a bipartisan spending deal if one is reached, Cantor objected to the premise. "I don't know that that hypothetical is even applicable, given where we are in the current negotiations," he said. "I don't think that that's even a likelihood and that there would be some need for a bridge to get there."

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Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who served as governor of Virginia from 2006-2010, has officially kicked off his much-expected campaign for Senate, for the seat held by retiring Dem Sen. Jim Webb.

In a YouTube video, Kaine touts his accomplishments as governor, saying he attracted business to the state and was praised for his fiscal management.

"I'm running for the United States Senate because America has big challenges," says Kaine. "And I'm convinced that Virginia has answers to help strengthen our nation."

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Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has seen enough of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" to declare it dead on arrival. In a statement to reporters on Tuesday, Baucus ripped into the Republican proposal to privatize Medicare while slashing benefits for seniors over time as a betrayal of the program's core mission.

"Independent experts agree the House Plan would make deep cuts to the Medicare benefits seniors count on," Baucus said in a statement. "It would end Medicare as we know it and funnel Medicare dollars directly into private insurance companies' pockets. Under the House plan, seniors' coverage would be cut drastically, benefits would no longer be guaranteed and seniors' costs would skyrocket. We can't allow the House to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and we won't - not on my watch."

Baucus is typically considered one of the less partisan members of his caucus, best known in recent years for delaying health care talks for months in order to try and secure Republican votes that never materialized. But his statement makes clear that even as an opening bid in deficit talks, Ryan's entitlement cuts are a nonstarter.

The father of 9/11 hero Todd Beamer tore into Attorney General Eric Holder for standing by his earlier decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York civilian courts even as he reversed course and announced Monday that KSM and his co-conspirators would be tried in military commissions.

Holder and the White House got a thorough drubbing by critics and supporters alike Monday for reversing course and breaking a campaign promise to close the detainee prison facility at Guantanamo Bay and try KSM and 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian courts. But one of the most searing critiques came Tuesday morning from David Beamer, the father of Todd Beamer, the renowned hero of United Airlines flight 93 who fought the terrorists before the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa.

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1||In 1995, the federal government temporarily shut down when President Clinton and Congressional Republicans failed to agree on a budget for the following fiscal year.

Now, President Obama and Republicans face a similar predicament, and if they fail to pass a budget by the end of this week, the government will again temporarily shut down. ||Ken Cedeno/Newscom&&

2||After President Clinton vetoed the spending bill sent to him by Congress, the government furloughed non-essential workers and closed many services. Pictured here are Rep. John Kasich (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Sen. John Warner (R-VA), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL.) ||CHUCK KENNEDY/Newscom&&

3||At one point, Speaker Gingrich told a group of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Majority Leader Dole sit in the back of Air Force One. The New York Daily News mocked Gingrich's comments with an unflattering caricature, which Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) then displayed in a press conference. ||MATT MENDELSOHN/Newscom&&

4||The government actually shutdown twice in 1995, first for five days in mid November, and again from December through the first week of January. The first shutdown was ended by a stopgap spending bill, though a long-term budget wasn't approved until January. ||CHUCK KENNEDY/Newscom&&

5||Many government services and tourist sites, including Biscayne National Park, shut down while the government hammered out a compromise. ||TIM CHAPMAN/Newscom&&

6||Then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and President Clinton were the two central players in negotiating a budget deal. ||Ken Cedeno/Newscom&&

7||||CHUCK KENNEDY/Newscom&&

8||The second shutdown lasted three weeks, prompting some members of Congress, including Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to decry the shutdown's negative impact. ||John Garofalo/Newscom&&

9||Compromise talks dragged on through the end of 1995. Pictured here are, at right, President Clinton, Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), and Rep. John Kasich (R-OH), and at left, Vice President Al Gore and Chairman of the Office of Budget and Management Alice Rivlin. ||Ken Cedeno/Newscom&&

10||President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in December 1995. ||Courtesy: William J. Clinton Presidential Library&&

11||Popular tourist attractions like the Lincoln Memorial remained closed until a spending bill was ultimately signed in January 1996. ||CHUCK KENNEDY/Newscom&&

12||Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia also closed temporarily as a result of the shutdown.||TOM GRALISH/Newscom&&

13||President Clinton and Congressional Democrats, like Richard Gephart (D-MO), refused to agree to Republican's proposed budget cuts on items like Medicare and education. ||Ken Cedeno/Newscom&&

14||||MICHAEL J.B. KELLY/Newscom&&

15||President Clinton finally signed a compromise budget bill on January 6, 1996, ending the government shutdown. ||Courtesy: William J. Clinton Presidential Library&&

16||Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), Vice President Al Gore President Clinton, and House Speaker Gingrich (R-GA) after a budget meeting on December 19, 1995. ||Courtesy: William J. Clinton Presidential Library&&