The federal government is now only hours away from a complete shutdown, as ongoing negotiations between House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House have failed to produce a budget. Spending cuts to critical social services—particularly $5 billion (one-half of one percent of the federal budget) for funding to Planned Parenthood, now stands in the way of compromise.

The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry was right to point out earlier this week on MSNBC’s Hardball that the attack against Planned Parenthood is counter-productive; not only does Planned Parenthood provide essential family planning services that can reduce abortions, a bi-partisan focus on improving jobs and the economy will strengthen families and could prevent the need for abortions altogether. Watch the video here. And be sure to read the latest from Columnist Katha Pollitt on "Why the Budget Debate is Not About Abortions."

As we argue in this week’s editorial, the GOP’s plan to cut spending in Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan released earlier this week, has less to do with savings and more do with balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly. Read our editorial here.

I debated Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity on CNN’s In the Arena debunking some of the myths the Republican Party has propagated regarding the federal budget. Asking the poorest in society to shoulder spending cuts is a cruel take on balancing the budget. Our entire debate has focused on cuts to social services when two-thirds of corporations aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. It’s not a deficit crisis or a debt crisis, it is what a majority of Americans say it is: a jobs crisis.

Also This Week…

LIVE: The National Conference for Media Reform

We’re delighted to join hundreds of activists, journalists, students and concerned citizens for the fifth annual National Conference for Media Reform in Boston. Colleagues Greg Mitchell, John Nichols and I are joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman and others for two-days of critical conversations on how the struggle for social change is inextricably linked to our media system. Watch it LIVE here. And be sure to read colleague Peter Rothberg’s background on the conference here.

BLOG: GOP Clerk ‘Finds’ Votes to Reverse Defeat of Conservative Wisconsin Justice

Despite a stunning victory earlier this week for first-time candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg, who narrowly beat incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in the state’s judicial election, John Nichols reports that a County Clerk, once a former Republican legislative staffer who worked for both Prosser and Gov. Walker, has "found" 7,582 missing votes needed to put Prosser outside the zone of an official recount. As Nichols points out, this would secure Prosser’s re-election and ensure a "win" for Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda. This is troubling, and indeed raises all sorts of questions. Nichols is right to point out that these developments demand a full recount, no matter what the ultimate margin of victory or defeat. Nichols joined Chris Hayes on MSNBC earlier this week to discuss the significance of Kloppenberg’s successful victory and what a recount might look like. Read his report here and watch the video here.

READ: The Changing US Tune on Yemen

With news of an official reversal of US policy earlier this week in its long-standing support for Yemen’s unpopular President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Nation Security Correspondent Jeremy Scahill, in “The Dangerous US Game in Yemen” gives us an inside look into the nature of US counter-terrorism operations in the region and offers critical warnings about the dangers of US policy to the stability of the region. Read it here. And watch his rousing debate with MSNBC’s Ed Shultz here.

SLIDESHOW: Manning Marable, 1950-2011

In honor of the legendary Manning Marable, who passed away late last week at the age of 60, The Nation has assembled a collection of tributes from friends, students and admirers of a man whose outsized impact on American letters will be felt for years to come. He was truly the great intellectual of the Black experience in America. He will be sorely missed. 

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As always, thanks for reading. I’m on Twitter–@KatrinaNation. Please leave your comments below.