Eight days into the government shutdown and with the deadline to raise the debt ceiling looming, President Obama today dug in, reiterating that he will not negotiate until Republicans agree to reopen the government and raise the nation's borrowing authority without strings attached.
"Let's stop the excuses. Let's take a vote in the House. Let's end this shutdown right now," Obama told reporters.
House Speaker John Boehner, who has been leading the Republican fight, held his own news conference shortly after and said, "What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he'll sit down and talk to us. That's not the way our government works."
In a hastily announced White House press conference, the president attempted to ramp up pressure on Republicans, accusing them of threatening to cause a recession if the administration refuses to gut Obamacare.
"You don't get to say 'Unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election I will cause a recession,'" he said.
"Imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform. I think it's fair to say that Republicans would not think that was appropriate," he added rhetorically.
Obama held firm, saying he would only negotiate once Republicans "lift these threats" and pass a clean funding bill to reopen the government and eliminate the threat of default by agreeing to raise the debt limit.
"I'm ready to head up to the Hill and try. I'll even spring for dinner again," he quipped. "But I'm not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can't make extortion routine as part of our democracy.... And this is not just for me. It's also for my successors in office. Whatever party they're from, they shouldn't have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We've got to put a stop to it."
With just nine days left to increase the nation's debt ceiling, the president warned of the dire consequences of default, saying it would be "insane, catastrophic, chaos," according to some economists.
"Warren Buffett likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use. It would disrupt markets, it would undermine the world's confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy, and it might permanently increase our borrowing costs which, of course, ironically would mean that it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have and it would add to our deficits and our debt, not decrease them," he said.
Obama ridiculed statements by some conservatives who said that default may not be so bad. "Let's take default out for a spin and see how it rides," the president said sarcastically.
He suggested he has very few options if Congress fails to act.
"I do worry that Republicans but also some Democrats may think that we've got a bunch of other rabbits in our hat," he said.
Obama fielded questions from the White House Press Corps for the time since the government shut down, his first solo White House press conference since Aug. 9.