President Obama said today that he was “exasperated” by the government shutdown and made clear that he will not negotiate with Republicans until Congress passes a clean bill to re-open the government and agrees to raise the debt ceiling.
“During the course of my presidency, I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican party,” the president told CNBC’s John Harwood in an interview. ”I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy. Sometimes people think I’m too calm. And am I exasperated? Absolutely, I’m exasperated. Because this is entirely unnecessary.”
“I am exasperated with the idea that, unless I say that, ‘Twenty million people, you can’t have health insurance,’ these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible,” he said of Republicans’ repeated efforts to defund or delay his signature health care law as part of any bill to fund the government.
Just hours before the president was scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders at the White House, he said he’s prepared to “negotiate on anything” but not until Republicans agree to a clean piece of legislation to reopen the government and to increase the nation’s borrowing ability.
“Until we get that done, until we make sure that Congress allows Treasury to pay for things that Congress itself already authorized, we are not going to engage in a series of negotiations,” he said.
“It is not acceptable for one faction of one part in one chamber to say, ‘Either we get what we want or we’ll shut down the government.’ Or even worse, ‘We will not allow the U.S. Treasury to pay its bills and put the United States in default for the first time in history,’” he added.
“If we get in the habit where a few folks, an extremist wing of one party, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, are allowed to extort concessions based on a threat of undermin[ing] the full faith and credit of the United States, then any president who comes after me, not just me, will find themselves unable to govern effectively,” he said.
Looking ahead to the Oct 17 deadline to raise the debt limit, the president said this round of Republican resistance is “different” and that Wall Street “should be concerned.”
“It is not unusual for Democrats and Republicans to disagree. That’s the way the founders designed our government. Democracy’s messy,” he told CNBC. “But when you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble.”