Democrats say they're close to a compromise deal to avoid a government shutdown that includes $73 billion in cuts. Republicans say the plan cuts only $33 billion, and it's not enough.
As if the Washington politics of a potential government shutdown isn't confusing enough, now Congress is throwing a healthy helping of math at the American people – and it's all rather fuzzy.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner says the Democrats are calling for $33 billion in cuts, and that his party hasn't agreed to that or any other number.
And what about the whole Republican "Pledge to America" during the election campaign to cut $100 billion from spending this fiscal year?
What do any of these numbers mean for the attempt to avoid a government shutdown Friday?
First off, the two numbers being bandied about in Washington this week – $33 billion and $73 billion – are really the exact same number, but reached through different accounting methods.
The spending plan being touted by Democrats would be $73 billion lower than what Mr. Obama had forwarded in his 2011 budget proposal, which was never passed by Congress. Looked at another way, it is $33 billion lower than current spending levels.