Three days into the shutdown and with no end in sight, President Obama today blasted House Republicans with renewed intensity and said the only thing standing in the way of reopening the government is Speaker John Boehner.
“I want everybody to understand this: There are [enough] Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives today, that if the speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up-or-down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience, the shutdown would end today,” the president told workers at M. Luis Construction in Rockville, Md.
“The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans, the only thing that’s preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party,” he said. “That’s all. That’s what this whole thing is about.”
“My simple message today is: Call a vote. Call a vote!” he urged.
In an effort to rally public opinion against the “reckless Republican shutdown,” the president slammed his opponents for refusing to reopen the government “until they get their way.”
He went on to quote Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., who told the Washington Examiner, “We’re not going to be disrespected… We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
“You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There’s no higher honor than that,” the president said. “The American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it.”
“What you get are little kids back into Head Start. What you get are our national parks and monuments open again. What you get is the economy not stalling, but continuing to grow. What you get are workers continuing to be hired. That’s what you get; that’s what you should be asking for. Take a vote, stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now,” the president said to applause.
“If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you’ve got… that you deserve to get something for doing your job,” he added.
With no progress being made to end the political impasse, the president said he is “tired of it” and reiterated that he will not negotiate with Republicans until they reopen the government and agree to raise the debt ceiling and eliminate the threat of default.
“There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You don’t get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
With the deadline to raise the debt ceiling just two weeks away, the president outlined the dire economic consequences of failing to increase the nation’s borrowing ability, saying it would “the height of irresponsibility.”
“As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people as are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse,” he said.
“In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, they don’t go out on time,” he said. “In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t. In a government shutdown, millions of Americans — not just federal workers — everybody faces real economic hardship.”
UPDATE: Following the president’s remarks, Congressman Stutzman issued a statement saying he “carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people.”
“Despite my remarks it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis, and stop ObamaCare’s pain,” he said.