Late-night talks at the White House failed to produce an agreement on a 2011 budget yesterday, but it did produce a new folk hero, a guy named J.T. Henderson. President Obama had this to say last night:

There was a interview that was done tonight on one of the nightly news networks — a man from Kentucky named J.T. Henderson. He said he’s counting on his tax rebate because his family has been scraping by, and he might not get it if the government shuts down. So J.T. said if he could speak directly to all of us in Washington he’d tell us that all of this political grandstanding has effects as it trickles down to normal, everyday Americans.

I could not have said it better myself. A shutdown could have real effects on everyday Americans. That means that small business owners who are counting on that loan to open their business, to make payroll, to expand, suddenly they can’t do it. It means folks who are potentially processing a mortgage, they may not be able to get it. It means that hundreds of thousands of workers across the country suddenly are without a paycheck. Their families are counting on them being able to go to work and do a good job.

J.T. clearly doesn’t understand that his children and grandchildren will thank him later for having to delay his tax rebate so a fraction of the non-security discretionary budget could be chopped so the Speaker of the House can prove to his fellow Republicans that he’s a good negotiator. Clearly if it was simply explained to him that way he’d understand.

Both sides expressed more optimism that a resolution could be reached, but time is short. One sign that a deal may be near is that the House waived its three-day rule for legislation, allowing a deal – or a short stopgap while a deal is being written – to move expeditiously through Congress without a 72-hour delay. This doesn’t mean a deal is going to happen, but it’s the clearest sign that Republicans may actually want one, mindful of what might happen to their favorability in a government shutdown.

If a deal does get reached, it looks like Boehner will get more than the $33 billion he initially agreed to just a week ago, and at least some of the policy riders that House Republicans have demanded. So any deal is going to look incredibly ugly. A government shutdown won’t be pretty either.