Preparing For a Government Shutdown

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and Rob Nabors, Director of Legislative Affairs, in the Oval Office, April 5, 2011 (Office White House Photo by Pete Souza)

House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sat behind closed doors yesterday, trying to come to compromise over the budget, but leaders in both parties seemed to be bracing for a real government shutdown by the end of the week. President Obama urged both Democrats and Republicans to put aside petty differences and come to a compromise. If they don't, every federal agency will have to come up with a contingency plan, especially the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Personnel Management. 

James Miller III, was director for the OMB between 1985 and 1988, and worked through two government shutdowns. He shares how he prepared for those brief shutdowns. He is also the author of "Fix the U.S. Budget!: Urgings of an 'Abominable No-Man." Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, has the latest on how negotiations are going, and reactions from Washington.


James Miller, III and Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [9]

John In SC from South Carolina

Re: "Since when is the President a disinterested party in a budget crisis that he and his colleagues created?"

Oh yeah... All of the deficit problems originated the second Pres. Obama stepped into the Oval Office. Like the near economic collapse, which was well under way in 2007. Like the deregulation and "head in the sand" attitude which enabled financial shysters to sell garbage on the open market and call it "good investments." Like the mismanaged and unnecessary war in Iraq that cost far too many lives and far too much treasure. Like etc. etc. etc.

Honestly - I cannot believe that people really believe the line of lies they are fed. "Thinking man's hope and change"? My Lord, man, what thinking? The wishful kind?

Apr. 06 2011 08:53 PM
Paula from Oklahoma

The only source of income for our family is from a federal employee but I would rather go without a paycheck than to have it come on the backs of the poor, the sick and the elderly.

Apr. 06 2011 11:43 AM
Chris of Pontiac

To just focus on “balancing the budget” without addressing long standing national problems such unequal access to quality healthcare housing and education, an energy policy that supports consumption, and a tax system that unfairly favors the rich is disingenuous at best. To use “just balancing the budget” as a reason for shutting down the government, for me is grounds for a recall.

Apr. 06 2011 10:27 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ listener - Certainly the President and all Congress people are interested and engaged on the budget.

I also commend Ryan for proposing a far-sighted plan, although I disagree with many of the assumptions and manner of implementation.

What cannot be understated is the fact that what Ryan has submitted is a radical break with government operations, particularly on social safety net/healthcare provisions, originating from either the 1930s or the 1960s. Maybe you are for that sort of extreme departure. Fair enough.

I think there will be far better, BIPARTISAN (like the 6 working on a long-term budget bill in the Senate) bills that address the problems in a less extreme and ideological proposal.

Also, point of fact: The US Federal govt. is in no way like balancing the budget of someone's checkbook or a business. Sorry.

Finally, Zwillich stated that Ryan got "out ahead" of the President and the rest of Congress.

My question: What did he get "out ahead" of.

Apr. 06 2011 09:55 AM
Barbara Valis


Apr. 06 2011 09:44 AM

Since when is the President a disinterested party in a budget crisis that he and his colleagues created? Since when is it immature and revolutionary to say we cannot spend trillions we do not have? Rep. Ryan's proposal is the thinking man's "hope and change".

Apr. 06 2011 09:23 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The problem, of course, is the deficit. And we spend more than we have because we are missing 50 million young people who would be working and paying taxes and supporting the system. And demographically it's just going to get worse. (See the video 'Demographic winter'.)

Apr. 06 2011 08:07 AM

In listening to your program this morning I noticed that Mr. Hockenberry referred to President Obama's Health Care Reform bill as "Obamacare." I like to think that your program is a balanced program. Otherwise I wouldn't take the time to listen to the programming. In that spirit I think it only fair that the legislation be accorded at least a modicum of respect when it is referred to in your public discourse. The use of "Obamacare" is clearly a slur used by its opponents intended to demean the legislation. I, for one, am quite happy that insurance companies can no longer terminate a person's health care policy unilaterly when they become ill. Using "Obamacare" in your comments doesn't lead me to believe you are an inpartial commentator.

Apr. 06 2011 07:42 AM
Vivian from Providence, RI

I think some of these folks in Washington are trying to compete with the "best" account of a government shutdown: this occurred between President Bartlett and Speaker Haffley on the "West Wing" episode, "Shutdown" - Maybe President Obama should walk to the Capitol, too, so John Boehner can create a brighter spotlight on himself!

Does anyone think there could be a parallel agenda here to subvert the President's plans to be re-elected?

Apr. 06 2011 06:26 AM

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