Good morning, fellow political junkies. As we enter Day 3 of the federal government shutdown, the impasse appears no closer to a solution. Nothing like a way forward seemed to come from President Obama's White House meeting Wednesday evening with congressional leaders.
But, then, we didn't expect much from it since the president's people said he wouldn't be negotiating.
Still, there's no shutdown in news coverage, far from it. Here's a collection of some of the more interesting pieces, themes, analysis or tidbits I wanted to share this morning.
- We may be at grasping-at-straws time. Or worse. Wednesday evening, as President Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House, Robert Costa of the National Review caused some initial excitement with a report of a "grand bargain" being attempted by Speaker John Boehner as he tried to cook up a dish his fellow Republicans could stomach to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. But a Boehner spokesman downplayed the effort. And the more you looked, the slimmer the reed seemed to be.
- It sounds like much heat was generated at a private meeting of Senate Republicans Wednesday as they castigated Sen. Ted Cruz for leading congressional Republicans into the box canyon of the government shutdown-Obamacare fight with no exit strategy, reported Politico's Manu Raju. Cruz also reportedly refused to take back all the nasty things he has publicly said about them.
- A staggering number of poor, both working and jobless, won't be helped by the Affordable Care Act because of their states' refusal to expand Medicaid. The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff report that more than half the nation's low-wage workers and two-thirds of poor blacks and single mothers won't get the subsidies needed to buy health insurance.
- While the lawmakers and news media busily showered attention on vets at the World War II Memorial who became a handy symbol of shutdown victimhood and triumph, especially for conservatives, virtually ignored were the very sick kids, especially those with cancer, treated by the shutdown-hamstrung National Institutes of Health. The New Republic's Alec MacGillis found no news cameras or members of Congress at the Children's Inn facility where children stay while taking part in NIH clinical trials.
- The shutdown has been little more than a speed bump for Washington lobbyists, reports Kevin Bogardus of The Hill. Sure, a few meetings with lawmakers were cancelled and venues changed. But so far, the city's lobbyists have found plenty of shutdown workarounds.
- Many people probably hadn't given much thought to the possibility that a few furloughed, unpaid U.S. intelligence workers might now be more easily recruited to spy for foreign nations. I know I hadn't. But James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence raised that concern at a congressional hearing Wednesday, reported NPR's Scott Neuman.
- Perhaps some of the fears held by House Republicans of primary challenges will be assuaged by a new automated poll that shows Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) with a commanding lead over his Tea Party challenger. CQ Roll Call's Abby Livingson reports that Shuster led retired Coast Guard captain Art Halverson by more than 50 points. It's still early, however.
- If you want to talk to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) try calling his Senate office and see if he picks up. The shutdown has caused him to take decisive action and answer his own phones, reports Politico's Burgess Everett.