August 23rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
12 months ago

Obama: Republicans privately ‘agree’ with me

(CNN) - President Barack Obama argued some Republicans secretly side with him on wanting to avoid a government shutdown, but they’re afraid they may face backlash from the conservative right.

"Sometimes they say to me privately, 'I agree with you, but I'm worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the Tea Party back in my district,' or, 'I'm worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio,'” Obama said in an exclusive interview with CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo.

Congress returns next month from a five-week recess with a full plate. If lawmakers do not approve a government funding bill before the fiscal year ends on September 30, the government would run out of money and would be forced into a partial shutdown.

Some Republicans – like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – have said that they would be willing to shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare, the president's signature healthcare law.

Not all Republicans are behind that message, however. Some establishment Republicans have argued their party would take the bulk of blame for a shutdown and therefore don't support it.

Democrats, quite expectedly, call the plan a nonstarter.

"Nobody thinks that's good for the middle class," Obama said.

The president accused Congress of failing to meet the federal government's basic responsibilities on the eve of yet another legislative fight over federal spending and the debt ceiling.

"There hasn't been a legislative session as far as I can tell," Obama said. "Congress doesn't have a whole lot of core responsibilities. One core responsibility is passing a budget, which they have not done yet. The other core responsibility that they've got is to pay the bills that they've already accrued."

Read more: CNN analysis: Congress in D.C. far less than it used to be

Right now, Congress is on a near record low pace for passing laws, and criticizing Congress for their lack of output has been a common refrain from Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner, however, has said his body should not be judged by the number of laws it enacts.

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create," Boehner said on CBS. "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal."

Congress will also be tasked to debate the debt ceiling, the credit limit on how much money the government may borrow. Budget experts expect the government to surpass the limit sometime between mid-October and mid-November.

Read more: Boehner to push for short-term government funding extension

A fight in Congress over the debt ceiling is nothing new, although fights have become increasingly more forceful in recent years.

In the interview with CNN, Obama at one pointed seemed surprised to even be talking about not raising the debt ceiling or passing a bill to fund the government.

"Why are we even talking about," Obama questioned. "Why aren't we just getting that done?"

– CNN's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • President Obama
soundoff (641 Responses)
  1. Jessica McGwin

    Shut it down.

    August 25, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. John Jacobson

    As long as Republicans march in lock step with its recovering drug addict (Limbaugh), how can anyone expect anything but hate, fear, and loathing?

    August 25, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. Smellferd

    This is a perfect example of the elitist mentality of those in Washington... most especially Obama. He says this like it is an elected officials responsibility to protect their constituency from themselves... like papa shepherding children... rather than to do the will of those who elected them and who's positions they represent. Time for Washington to wake up to the fact it is we the people who run the show and they are merely cogs in the machine.

    Anyone supporting this bill either 1.has no idea what is in it or 2. is a fool. Any Republican caught not trying to stop this nonsense should be purged from office at the voters earliest convenience.

    August 25, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Phil in the Blanks

    Reply ToManWithThe1000lbbrain: Cruz and Rubio want to shut down the government. Wonder why?

    August 25, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Izzy

    Good, a partial shutdown is what we need. We need to reduce the rate of government spending, we need to means test Social Security, privatized the system for younger folks and eliminate useless bureaucratic agencies like the Federal Department of Education. The size of the Government workforce even attributed to George Bush with Homeland Security needs to be streamlined and consolidated. Today, government drains employment from the private sector and this trend needs to be reversed on the Federal Level. Obamacare is a joke, I called Kaiser, my service provider and they believe the rates for individual plans will be even higher than present. This program should be completely defunded. Instead, we should allow individual planes to grow as we do with auto insurance, eliminate employer paid planes whereby large bureaucracies get big subsidies and others are hung out to dry. We should also competition across state lines and increase tax credits to cover insurance costs. The Republicans look at fiscal responsibility. The Democrat's only care about public employee unions and those fat 300 lb. ladies in SEIU purple shirts incompetent who would not survive one day in the private sector.

    August 25, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Ivan Bia

    Any elected official that's afraid to vote his or her conscience does not deserve to be re-elected.
    Particularly when caving in to a vocal minority

    August 25, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. jim

    Even Republicans know that a government shut down is a bad idea, politically. So Obama saying "secretly agree" is his sneaky way of making Americans think that the majority of the GOP, in fact, wants a government shut down.

    August 25, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. treblemaker

    I got a better idea-let's de-fund the "red" states that take in more government aid than the "blue" states. There is no middle class anymore, because the jobs that insured the middle class with decent wage stability are all gone.

    August 25, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Terik Ororke

    The question is: how can we continue to print funny –worthless– money and say we have a real budget? How can we intervene in Syria when it the long run it will cost billions, perhaps trillions more in the lomng run and we will face a new enemy there when it takes over, namely Al Qaeda? One airline reported that Obamacare will raise its health care bill 100 million or more –what does that do for fares? When we are bankrupt, where will the socialists in Washington hide? Will fed employees and congress people get their salaries –of course.

    August 25, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Hans

    So they privately agree with Obama....but don't want get voted out......by the people that voted them in.......so they have to do the will of the people. Sadly, Republicans vote for leaders based on what they do, not what the media brainwashes the low information voter into believing.

    August 25, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Tony in STL

    Most people in our country know our basic "government" fundamentals. The republicans have lost all credibility and trust from Americans who know how the basics work. It is what it is. The only thing I find interesting are the number of people who still attempt to follow a party that has allowed itself to be overthrown and virtually "sunk"! I would never follow a fool, or anyone/anything else that has provided "ZERO" solutions. The "new" GOTP party is truly the party of stupid. Too much silly, too much hate, too much lack of basic learning skills! And I didn't say it first, ...a GOTP/repub/con ...did(Jindal)! GAME OVER! The jig is truly up! It's just a matter of time. And I do believe a lot (not all) of conservative ideas are good, ...we're implementing them! Blind hate is killing you!

    August 25, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. mike

    So... remember the last time we raised the debt ceiling? Remember the argument against? We'll just keep raising it until the interest makes the whole situation spiral out of control (slowly but surely, we are seeing this materialize). Search debt ceiling history to see the chart. The growth is literally exponential. I'm not saying it's all Obama's fault or the democrats' fault Moving forward, we need to do something about debt and spending.

    We will never all agree what to cut, but we need to start permanently cutting spending. YESTERDAY. We are near historical highs for debt as a percentage of GDP, and are a couple years removed (assuming current growth rates) from being an entire order of magnitude greater than the infamous post WW2 debt adjusted for inflation. You might not see how damaging this is now, but when the whole thing collapses, "We told you so" won't be very gratifying for anybody.

    August 25, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Normal In NH

    Wouldn't it be something if politicians actually voted in America's and it's citizens' best interests instead of their own political careers?

    August 25, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    When the government shuts down...and law enforcement no longer will respond to crimes being commited....those responsible for shuting it down...should be loooking over their shoulders all the time. Good luck with that, now that you have not passed any gun regulation...and everyone has one.

    August 25, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. Matthew

    So what exactly is the issue here

    August 25, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  16. Mightyduk

    Wouldn't it be nice if one of those blowhard repubs would actually come up with some alternative plan.....something anything. And we are paying these people. Talk about wasteful spending.

    August 25, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
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