House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) faces a dilemma: To avoid a politically devastating government shutdown, he has to reach a budget deal with Senate Democrats, the White House, and even some House Democrats. But doing so would mean alienating some conservatives in his caucus, causing a fissure in the GOP leadership, and possibly jeopardizing his speakership. He appeared ready to negotiate with Dems again this week, starting talks with conservative Democrats. Is that his best choice?

Boehner should side with the "mainstream": Boehner can't solve his "arithmetical problem" without making someone unhappy, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. So he might as well work with Democrats for a budget that "the American mainstream" finds palatable, even if it causes "widespread apoplexy among conservative activists and the GOP's Tea Party base."
"Boehner eyes Blue Dogs for budget deal"

He better not "betray" the base: If Boehner sides with Democrats over conservatives, it's "game over," says Erick Erickson in RedState. He can't choose to "reject defunding Obamacare and reject defunding Planned Parenthood and reject defunding NPR" and still keep his job. Boehner needs to show some "spine." A government shutdown would be way better for the GOP than this bid to "sell its soul" and "betray its base."
"House Republicans leaders want Democrats, not conservatives..."

Boehner has no good options... but neither do Dems: Wisely, Boehner is trying to punt, telling Senate Democrats they need to pass their own bill first, says David Dayen in Firedoglake. But even if the Senate can find 60 votes for a budget, there are still "serious vulnerabilities" for both parties. The likely compromise, up to $36 billion in cuts, is "a blueprint to sink the economy," which hurts Democrats. And whatever happens, the Tea Party will still accuse Boehner of "betrayal."
"Shutdown looms, but solution to shutdown not promising either"