August 23rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
8 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. John M

    It would not surprise me if Obama is right on this one. You just can't be a politician in this country if you don't sell out on your nation. As for judging Congress on how many laws they pass or repeal, I'd say for Congress to take any action at all would be a move in the positive direction.

    August 23, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Buckwheat

    They don't fear Rush, they fear losing their cushy government office. Just for once I would like to see these dolts stand up and say the hell with re-election, I am going to do what is right for the people. They ALL need to be replaced. NO incumbents. Term limits are WAY PAST DUE.

    August 23, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. JC

    Of course some agree, but the heads of the party are so right wing that those who are actually competent are silenced. Maybe what we as a party need is to lose the house and get Boehner and the other Boehners out if there. We need true conservatives that aren't hung up on the religious doctrines. Don't get too happy liberals. You folks are just as guilty. The progressive movement is just as dangerous as the tea party.

    August 23, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. 66Biker

    There is no such thing as an honest party affiliated politician. There never has been, and there never will be. We need another Independence Day, this time from the political parties that are ruining our country for their own greed.

    August 23, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Tim

    Doesn't this monkey have enough to worry about than to keep making other people look bad? We have the highest amount of people on welfare ever, my taxes go up every year, and the economy still sucks. Yet, this is waht he wants to talk about?

    August 23, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. jack fitzgerald

    You've spoken with shortsightedness as to who you represent, catering to your base and playing politics when you should not, lit the emotions of hate and now you want to continue to play politics; divide and conquer, play politician 100% of the time. you are at the top. There's nowhere else to manipulate your way to. You don't have to bs and play act anymore. There's no one to blame either other than yourself. This is the point where you represent ALL the people in United States. If you really think about things, you are not helping your base (it may not be readily apparent just yet) and you are definately not helping the whole of the country.

    August 23, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. gimmabreak

    Way to go Pres! Keep calling these GOP'ers out. They need to stop being afraid of what the t-party media will say about them and get back to work. They have held this country hostage long enough. Flush them out!

    August 23, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Jake106

    He argues like a troll on the internet.

    "I don't have any proof to back my claim, but I'm going to make this ridiculous statement as if it were a confirmed fact. If you don't agree with me, I'll insult you! Fear my wrath!"

    August 23, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. PEGGY HELLIER

    "The Republican Party is not really a party. It doesn't stand for anything except re-electing itself," says David Stockman, former congressman and budget director. ABSOLUTELY TRUE. Also the bottom line when discussing what's wrong with Congress.

    August 23, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Be Sane

    I would have never believed I'd see the day that our public official's actions would be determined by a blow-hard, egotistical, drugged out, college drop out talk show personality. Sad.
    They need to grow a backbone.

    August 23, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Name

    "If you can't do your job... quit".

    Is just another way GOP try not to look stupid in the eyes of a great Pre. Obama.

    August 23, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Prediction

    The conservative right is made up the extremely wealthy, most of which never earned a living and would not understand the importance of innovation and free thought. The extreme wealthy represents the worst of human kind bar none..

    August 23, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. deb0155

    Obama is a joke! He's like a mean girl in school gossiping about another girl who's not in her circle of friends. Every day when I check out the news – Obama surprises me more and more at how just unfit he is for the office of President of the United States.

    August 23, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Fearless Freep

    I sometimes feel bad for Republicans.
    But I get over it very quickly.
    I remind myself the "Conservatism" is a disease.

    August 23, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Celeste

    Always near election time, the flock of GOP fools displays their bigotry. That flock of fools has government paid vacations, health and life insurance, great retirement benefits that they want give up or share, free government plane tickets to different events, free golfing privileges, free legal fees, free hotel rooms and free meals and a lobbyist writing million dollar checks to keep you down. Can I get one honest big mouth tea party GOP who wasn’t born in another country to give up or pay for their own government given perks! Hypocrites by the dozens! Can I get the Tea Party big mouths that were born in another country to give up their free American perks!!!!!!

    August 23, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Klaus

    wishful thinking Mr. Obama?

    August 23, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Americans can clearly see the circular firing squad that are the Guns Over People tea potty. President Obama can do what many of us are already doing. Get popcorn and watch the fun.

    August 23, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. amercon

    Obamacare is a disaster that needs to be repealed and replaced. Democrat Senator Max Baucus, the main author, complained that it’s implementation would be a “huge train wreak”. The congressional staff does not want it and was exempted. Several unions are now saying they do not want it. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 10 million American will lose their current coverage by 2018. The young and healthy will pay way too much for insurance. The government is not ready to implement it and may never be. It was delayed by executive order for a year for employers and insurance companies, but individuals will still be hurt and it is wide open to fraud and privacy concerns. It should be formally delayed by Congress for everyone. Instead of doing the right thing, Obama wants to shutdown the federal government if Obamacare is not funded for 2014.

    August 23, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. JLM

    I do not understand what Republicans feel their party is doing for them anymore. They are only out to make the rich richer and that does not help the majority of Americans in any way. The right wing only want to obstruct government and have it religiously ruled and the moderates can't saya word for fear of being out primaried. So what's the solution – prevent people from being able to vote – WTH???

    August 23, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Black Dynamite

    Why would anybody, particularly the POTUS, fear Rush Limbaugh? You mean the same Rush Limbaugh who lobbied for 2 years against Obama in 2008, and generated ZERO momentum against the political unknown?

    Rush has proven to be as much of a political lightweight, really a nobody, as there is in media. Fox News has more political street cred than him.....
    BD

    August 23, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Heelsgirl

    Once again, what a way to bring the Country together Mr. President.

    August 23, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Rob

    Is this guy nuts???? We are appreciative of Rush and the Tea Party and we are fearful of everything that Obama does! We want to defund Obamacare – in fact we want the entire bill repealed and gone forever! I don't think Obama has any grasp on reality!

    August 23, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. DE

    It is really sad when you representative sides with an idiot like Lamebaugh or the facsists tea bagegrs instead of their constitutents. This is like the seantors who voted against the recent new guns laws despite 80%-90% of their constituents wanting them to vote for the law. They voted the way the NRA wanted them to vote, not the way people who voted for them wanted them to vote. And after all that, the NRA and Rubio said they voted correctly. Hopefully people will remember this next time their non representative senator is up for re-election.

    August 23, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Darrell

    The President is right the rupublicants are too busy trying to get reelected when there isn't even an election!! When are they going to work??? to do the people's work?? They are too busy trying t threaten thsi President who is a a great job in spite of the republicants and they want to say see..it's all his fault nothing is getting done. When ALL THEY DO IS MOAN AND GROAN AND TRY TO PLAY UP TO THE TEA PARTY AND KEEP TELLING ALL THIER LIES!!! Well we will remember this at voting time republicants and we are going to vote out all these old tired worn out old men and women who do not want to compromise on anything. Before the republicants took the house things were getting done fast and with a pirpose now it's like they are in cold molasses. Do something anything and quite voting on this healthcare bill!!! it's passed already!!! i think after 40 times it's a done deal!!!! By the way what do they have to replace it?? oh yeah nothing!

    August 23, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Peter

    News flash for Boehner: Congress' performance is judged on whether or not they do anything at all. Pass, repeal, amend, it doesn't matter, so long as you are doing something. Congress has failed to do ANYTHING at all in the last few years, and that is why their approval rating is near zero, and sinking fast. With Cruz and Rubio (where are Issa and Paul on this?) claiming that they intend to shut down the government this fall, blame will land squarely on them, and with guilt by association, the rest of the GOP.

    August 23, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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