Is a Government Shutdown Unavoidable?

If Democrats and Republicans don't strike a deal by Friday, the government will shut down.

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As Democrats and Republicans play a high-stakes game of chicken over government spending, the nation wonders if either side will give in, and government agencies are bracing themselves for a potential shutdown. No spending deal came from last night’s White House meeting between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but all three indicated the meeting was productive. If Congress can’t come to some agreement by Friday at midnight, the government will shut down for the first time since the mid-1990s, something both Democratic and Republican leaders say they want to avoid. Not everyone is in favor of striking a deal, however. Tea Party activists Wednesday rallied outside the Capitol, waving signs supporting a shutdown and chanting, “Shut it down.” A Pew Research Center poll taken last week showed that people who agree with the Tea Party prefer a government shutdown over budget compromise by a margin of 68 to 26 percent. But will lawmakers also refuse to compromise? [See a slide show of 10 effects of a government shutdown.]

U.S. News blogger Alvin Felzenberg thinks so. “As both parties, each in control of one House of Congress, seek to assemble a budget that their base constituencies can live with,” he writes, “the clock continues to tick with shutdown a likely outcome.”

But Time blogger Adam Sorensen disagrees:

Democrats and Republicans have an incentive to stick to their guns in public, in order to extract maximum concessions from their rivals and to signal to their bases, which will inevitably be disappointed by compromise, that they stuck it out until the end. … So, is a shutdown imminent? Not likely. Here's why:

The costs, political and otherwise, are just too great for both parties.

What do you think? Will the government shut down? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Should Ryan’s budget plan become law?