You could see this one coming.
The end of the fiscal year Sept. 30 and the deadline for raising the debt ceiling once seemed far enough apart for Republicans to take two bites at the fiscal apple. They could use the threat of a government shutdown on Oct. 1 to seek concessions on discretionary spending, then the threat of a default to seek concessions on other issues related to the deficit -- for example, an agreement on tax reform or slowing the growth of entitlements.
That may be one of the reasons Obama summoned congressional leaders to the
Merging the funding bill with the debt limit increase could push the two sides further apart, given that House Speaker
One key to any deal will be resolving the differences between the two chambers over the
The X factor is the tea party wing of the GOP and its insistance that something be done about the Affordable Care Act. Although Obama insists that it's a purely ideological attack that doesn't belong in the discussions, it fits into the GOP's broader argument that Washington has to rein in entitlement spending to balance its budget and halt the growth of the national debt. Still, the fate of the healthcare law wasn't a central issue in the last two, fiercely contentious budget negotiations: the "
Senate Majority Leader
Had Boehner or
Regardless, the challenge for both sides now is to find a way to end the shutdown without appearing to cave to the other's demands. As hard as that seems now, given how invested the House GOP is in its attack on Obamacare, that task will get exponentially more difficult if raising the debt ceiling becomes a prerequisite to the deal.