(CNN) – While there are fresh signs of movement between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, nothing is settled yet. As talks heat up, part of the government is still closed and it’s a day closer to when the Obama administration warns of a potential default on U.S. debt.
Up to speed:
"A useful and productive conversation."
That's how House Republican leaders characterized their meeting with President Barack Obama in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Thursday.
The good news is that they're still talking, contrasted with the last White House meeting when they had little to say.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, one of the Republican leaders at the White House meeting, said "we want to move quickly" and that Obamacare did not come up in "any substantive way" in their discussion. He said that both sides were working in good faith to resolve their differences.
The Republican proposal:
Republicans earlier proposed to raise the debt ceiling for as long as six weeks to allow more time to negotiate a longer-term deal. In exchange, Republicans want a conference committee with members of both parties to work on a large deal addressing undefined “pressing problems.”
Obama has indicated that he would be open to a short-term extension but with no strings attached. The White House also said Obama wants the government reopened.
Obamacare 'off the table'
House Republicans, and notably Ted Cruz in the Senate, led the fight against Obama's signature health care law. They made defunding or delaying Obamacare a demand in legislation the House repeatedly sent to the Democratic-controlled Senate, only to see it die there.
Apparently, it's now dead in the House, too.
"That's currently off the table now," Republican Rep. James Lankford said in an interview on "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "That's obviously not going to happen at this point."
Lankford did say that Republicans will now instead ask for a one-year delay on penalties for those who don't sign up for health care insurance.
The back story
CNN’s Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, provides a must-read on how the stalemate got to this point.
“[T]he House GOP scheme, abetted by [Republican Senator Ted] Cruz and outside conservatives, will become a case for the civics classes. A study of the newly perverse politics of our time, and how a government was brought to its knees over a fight only a few wanted to wage - that everyone secretly knew could never be won,” Borger wrote.
Debt debate deconstructed
Some lawmakers don’t believe the United States will default once the debt ceiling is lifted. Among them is Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. He said the United States won’t default because it should prioritize its payments, putting payments on interest on the debt and Social Security at the top of the list.
“I wish we had a president who would take on the responsibility of the office, sit down with us, and address the fundamental problems that cause us to keep borrowing so much money,” Toomey said.
Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, rebutted Toomey’s argument. She said paying only some of the bills is default.
“We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is ‘I got mine; the rest of you are on your own.’ We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air or toxic mortgages. We are not that nation,” Warren said.
Are the debt deniers right?
Stop fixating on October 17 – the date the Obama administration says is the debt ceiling deadline.
Here’s what October 17 means: Even if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling in the next week, the Treasury Department in all likelihood could continue to pay bills in full beyond that time - but not for very long.
Because at that point, it will be using the estimated $30 billion in cash it will have on hand, plus whatever daily revenue comes in. It will no longer be able to borrow to make up the difference between expenses and revenue.
The true cash crunch will come sometime by November 1, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Pay for play
The Interior Department announced Thursday it will consider working with governors who have offered to use state funds to open national parks during the shutdown.
All 401 national parks have been closed and 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed because of the shutdown. States are feeling the pain because the parks are major tourist hubs that drive local economies.
Governors and local officials in several states including Utah, Arizona, California, South Dakota, and Wyoming have sought alternative solutions to keep their parks open.
Rep. Paul Ryan is back
He’s got a design for a grand bargain, but it’s getting flak from both sides, particularly the right.
The furlough update
66,000: The number of additional unemployment claims filed last week. The highest single week increase since Superstorm Sandy.
The Dow posted its biggest gain of 2013 on hopes of a debt ceiling deal. It surged 323.09 points, closing at 15,126.07.
Obamacare. Is that still around?
Yep. The Republicans haven’t dismantled it. The Internet black hole hasn’t swallowed it. And the White House is simultaneously working to beat off Republican critics and software glitches.
CNN’s Brian Todd reported that a government official defended the administration’s decision to launch the healthcare.gov despite warnings that it wasn’t ready to go live. “When you launch a new piece of technology, regardless of testing, there are bound to be issues, and we are working vigorously to correct them,” the official said.
The Senate closed an ugly chapter in the shutdown fight on Thursday although some thought it was already closed.
It unexpectedly approved House-passed legislation to restore military death benefits for survivors that were cut due to the shutdown.
Republican senators pushed to have the bill passed despite a plan finalized by the Obama administration the day before Fisher House, a private charity, cover the cost of the benefits until the shutdown is resolved.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the push by Republicans was "unnecessary" because benefits were now flowing, but said he would not block a unanimous consent agreement proposed by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
"This issue is largely moot. It's clear the action on this legislation is just for show," Reid said.
Citizens step up
Some citizens aren’t standing by and complaining about a government shutdown. Instead, they are filling the void.
– A South Carolinian mowed parts of the National Mall and picked up trash.
– A food bank delivers food to stranded workers inside the Grand Canyon.
– Food Lion donated $500,000 to families locked out of food stamps in North Carolina
– A restaurant in Indiana is allowing IOUs and temporary jobs to furloughed government employees.