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Congressional Republicans continued their attack on President Clinton's new budget plan, saying it is some $400 billion wide of the seven-years-to-balance mark to which both sides agreed last week. "I certainly hope we don't shut the government down," groused Republican Senator Don Nickles. That would happen if no agreement is reached by next Friday when the temporary government funding deal expires. But TIME's James Carney reports that most of Friday's noise is posturing: "We won't know the chances for a deal until next week when the Congressional Budget Office releases its new economic forecasts and scores the Administration's plan. Then the serious negotiations will begin." Carney says the new CBO numbers are expected to be more optimistic, which may help close the gap between congressional Republicans and the White House. "It's not clear how much further Clinton can go," Carney says. "His budget is increasingly alienating congressional Democrats, and the President is fast approaching the familiar territory where he is satisfying nobody. But politically, the GOP, and especially the freshmen, have the most to lose if negotiations fail and they can't deliver on their big promise -- a balanced budget."