Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a rocky week.

We may-or may not-be faced with a government shutdown at the end of the week. It depends, of course, on whether the Democrats and Republicans can come together and pass a continuing resolution to fund the government.

I’ll resist the temptation to joke that we ought to close the durn government down anyway.

That would be frivolous and unserious at a serious time in our nation’s history. And Senator Chuck Schumer–who is chomping at the bit for a shutdown because he thinks he can blame the GOP and the Tea Party–gave the public a strong enough dose unseriousness to last all week yesterday on ABC’s Sunday morning show.  Here is his exchange (as reported by Andrew Stiles) with Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Republicans in Congress find themselves in an odd predicament with regard to the budget and the possible shutdown. James Antle of the American Spectator sums up the dilemma:

Because Congress failed to pass a budget last year and the Senate has yet to pass a long-term continuing resolution, we are in the unusual position of debating a 2012 spending plan and spending for the remainder of 2011 at virtually the same time. [Republican Rep.Paul] Ryan is expected to release this new budget just three days before the government will shut down if no agreement on this year’s spending is reached.

Should the Republicans be open to some kind of compromise over the next six months’ spending to avert a government shut-down and retain their credibility for pushing [Rep. Paul Ryan’s] budget, keeping their eyes on the prize of a long-term spending blueprint? Isn’t the next ten years going to have a bigger budgetary impact than the next six months?

Then again, if the Republicans cannot deliver billions in spending cuts why should we believe they can really achieve trillions in savings? Why should the GOP, whose commitment to fiscal discipline has habitually faded whenever Republicans find themselves in political trouble, be trusted to deliver on spending? Wouldn’t winning the short-term budget fight make them more likely to prevail in the long term?

I am not often ambivalent. But I am over a government shutdown:  Would shutting down the government be a principled stand or a disaster (I realize the two aren’t mutually exclusive!)?  A national survey of 1,000 likely voters by Pulse Opinion Research, conducted March 30, 2011, yielded results GOP lawmakers might want to mull over before the week gets underway.

Noting that the House has passed a bill to cut $61 billion from the federal government’s $1.5 trillion deficit this year, the survey asked if this was the appropriate amount. Only 18% answered that it was too much, while 46% said it was not enough. Sixteen percent were not sure. That looks like more voters would be inclined to support the bill put forward by the the Republican-led Congress. Does that mean that mean that the Republicans will be able to survive shutting down the government?

The survey asked: “If the Democratic Senate continues to reject the Republican House’s proposal for $61 billion in spending cuts this fiscal year as called for in HR 1, leading to a government shutdown, which party would you hold accountable for the shutdown?” Forty-three percent of the respondents said Democrats, while 30% said Republicans. Twenty-three percent said both parties equally.

But of course in the event of a real shutdown the question may not be framed quite that way. Senator Schumer will be out there shouting, “Tea Party! Tea Party!” Still, the results do indicate that the voters are more serious about debt than Senator Schumer has appeared to be in recent days. Paul Ryan is very serious.