Government shutdown: Is there an endgame?

Style Magazine Newswire | 10/4/2013, 3:17 p.m. | Updated on 10/4/2013, 3:17 p.m.
As the country goes into the weekend with the government shut down and neither side talking, there seems to be ...

As the country goes into the weekend with the government shut down and neither side talking, there seems to be little hope for breaking the impasse any time soon.

And with the days ticking down toward the moment the country runs out of options to meet its debt obligations, the head-butting over funding the government might force Congress to try to work out a deal to get it running again and raise the debt ceiling at the same time.

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King and Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley were asked about the state of play as we end a tumultuous week as well what next week might look like.

Q: CNN and others reported that House Speaker John Boehner said to Republicans in private meetings that he will get something passed to avoid defaulting on the U.S. financial obligations, even if it takes putting something together that would attract Democrats. Did he blink?

John King: His top aides are saying there's no dramatic shift here. But the speaker's meeting in small groups with rank-and-file lawmakers. John Boehner knows when he goes into a meeting like that it's going to leak out.

What is he doing? He's sending an early signal that, ladies and gentlemen of the Republican caucus, 'we are not going to be part of defaulting.'

His obituary is already going to read he was the leader of a bizarre three-ring circus on Capitol Hill. He doesn't want to say he was the speaker when the government for the first time defaulted.

There's still a huge question of how you get there, though, because the speaker will continue to insist no raising the debt ceiling without getting something from the administration -- on spending cuts, on spending levels, on reforms in the most expensive government programs. And the president, of course, is on the record saying 'I won't negotiate.' You can reconcile those two positions by doing it in a couple of sequenced steps.

It's an optimistic statement from the speaker that we won't default, but getting from "A" to the finish line is still complicated.

Q: Are we talking about a grand bargain again? It's hard to believe that could happen this time around -- things have gone from bad to worse in terms of relations between these two parties?

King: Sometimes at the bleakest moment is when something can be pulled -- a rabbit you pull out of a hat, if you will. However, when you talk to people in both parties and top aides close to all of the people involved, from the White House to the Republicans and the Democrats on Capitol Hill, most just don't see an environment because of the distrust, because of the glooming political calendar of 2014 for a big grand bargain that does Medicare, Social Security, tax reform, other entitlements, other spending cuts in the government.

Is there a possibility of a smaller bargain that gets some of the things Republicans want in terms of savings in Medicare and Social Security, some other spending cuts? That is possible in these separate budget agreements.