|Obama, Boehner Clash in Dueling News Conferences|
|By MARY BRUCE (@marykbruce)||Oct 8, 2013, 1:44 PM|
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.
The question and answer session was part of the administration's effort to highlight the negative impacts of the shutdown and the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling. In the past week, Obama has made several public appearances in an attempt to put pressure on Republicans to pass a "clean" funding bill, one with no "partisan strings attached" and reopen the government.
In the new ABC News/Washington Post poll 70 percent disapprove of the way Republicans are handling these negotiations, up 7 points from a week ago. The president has a 51 percent disapproval rating.
While there has been limited progress between the White House and Republicans, the lines of communication are open. The president phoned House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, this morning to reiterate that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans, but only after they agree to reopen the government and eliminate the threat of default.
Boehner's spokesman, however, said that "the president called the speaker again today to reiterate that he won't negotiate on a government funding bill or debt-limit increase."
As the standstill continues, House Republicans are expected to vote on a measure to establish a new committee of lawmakers to immediately begin negotiating a deal to reduce the deficit, increase the debt limit, and end the shutdown.
Boehner, however, declined today to detail what he hopes to get out of the proposed talks.
"I want to have a conversation. I'm not drawing any lines in the sand," he said in a Capitol Hill news conference. "It's time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences."
ABC News' John Parkinson contributed to this report.