August 23rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
5 years 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. larry

    This is wishful thinking on the part of the democrats. They're hoping for a division in the party and the media is all to willing to help them out.

    August 23, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Rush L.

    There is no doubt that President Obama is a masterful politician who is adept at catering to the mass of uneducated americans along with so called educated liberal elites. However the facts are the facts and President Obama will go down as a failed president who presided over the rapid decline of the US as a world power and a beacon to the world of freedom, economic prosperity and global influencer.

    August 23, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. IpseCogita

    Yes, everyone agrees that we should avoid a government shutdown. But many think that the things Obama wants to do are worse than a government shutdown. Obama and his legislators have yet to compromise on anything, and this article is saying the only way to avoid a shut down is for the other side to just capitulate and do everything Obama's way.

    Fear of Rush is not what's stopping people, it's fear of massive tax and spending increases and massive encroachment on peoples natural rights.

    August 23, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Joe The Plumber

    Let's take Boehner at his word – judge thte GOP by the laws they have repealed. So name one!!!!!!

    August 23, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. OrmondGeorge

    They're not so much afraid of Rush as they are his "ditto heads."
    He thinks for them, speaks for them, tells them what to do (and they apparently do it).

    August 23, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Wally Lind

    Rush Limbaugh does not represent the republican party in any way shape or form. In fact, he is on of the biggest RINOs in America. Perhaps the biggest, next to Rick Santorum. But, given that, Rush is not listened to by that large an audience. Maybe ten or fifteen million listen in a week (the numbers he gives are people who listen multiple times). It's fine if the President wants to make himself look small, I dislike his Marxist politics intensely, but over Rush Limbaugh. Give me a break! Someone else has to do that job, after Obama. He could be more careful with its prestige.

    August 23, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Many democrats agree with the GOP but they fear Keith Oberman and the environmentalist. Two can play that game Obama.

    August 23, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. nugun

    Well, consider the fact that for the most part 80% of the Democrat Party and 80% of the Republican Party are one and the same.

    And other 10%-20% are the members actually trying to affect real change. But you know what? It's not the Tea Party's fault that they oppose spending $2-$3 Trillion budgets, with nearly $1 trillion deficits every year.

    And remember the whole government shutdown was over $38 billion.

    This is essentially your wife complaining that you're racking up 2-3G's on the credit card everymonth. And then saying you can't afford to pay the mortgage because she took $20 out of your wallet.

    August 23, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Dumb Media

    Can we voters and readers of this BS Media believe this crap?? 5 weeks vacation for summer and more vacation the rest of the year, Christmas, Spring Break, etc. Do we really vote for these people and let them get away with this. How do these people get elected and why do we let them get away with this. This is not real news, this is just the usual propaganda. Time for 6 years and you are out for all elected officials. We don't have the time or money to waste on these childish games..

    August 23, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. dh

    You repubs are on your last leg. 10/1 when americans see aca affordable rates and benefits your bs will be stopped in its tracks. As we see the closer that date is the louder your whinning is.

    August 23, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. SpencerRifle

    Who writes this drivel? Congressmen fear only one group of people...their home district constituents. They are the ones who decide if he/she gets to keep their job. They could care less what anybody else thinks of them.

    August 23, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. ireuel

    No they do not. Oh course "Privately" Prove it.

    August 23, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. volsocal

    "Whay are we talking about it?" Mr. President??? Because your administration is spending too much money, creating too many bad laws, and creating too many bad policies.

    August 23, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Chris


    If there is a Shutdown do to this Republican impasse, I will probably lose my Defense Contractor Job do to the resulting CUTS and I will blame the Republican Party.. I will disavow any membership with them and certainly campaign to remove every Republican from office, from my local government to congress .. they have become poison to America
    WOW....the ONLY reason you have a defense contract is because of republicans!!! GET A CLUE!!! It is the left that wants to do away with them!!!!

    August 23, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. DJR

    This was foretold 4 years ago. When in an economic crisis you don't say lets spend more money than ever on a program that we can't possibly afford. You know, we don't have a job or any credit but lets buy this $60,000 cadillac the bank said we could. That's how we got here. Obama went in to office with the high ideas of the 1990's scamfest economy. It's not there nor is health care for all the world paid for by citizens of the USA. You want that then put all Americans to work, homes priced at $60,000 and cars at $9,999. It's before Obama in his CEO bonus baby hearings that are about to start. Obama care is a dead issue till you bring ALL the leaches to roll call. Health care? Only one and one for all! Guarantee control or forget implementation.

    August 23, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. gstlab3

    they better fear the radio king Rush.,

    the truth and conservative ideas are the only way out from under this greedy power hungry government.,
    the false two party system is being outed and explained on his show and the majority of republicans are in fact not conservative at all.,

    it comes down our fight against this all powerfull government and those too big to fail banks and corporations that in fact run the country despite what our politicians might tell us.

    August 23, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. gstlab3

    guese who fears the truth more than the government?

    if you guessed the media and the sponsoring corporations and big banks you would be correct.

    August 23, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. shaundadon

    when repubs are asked who is the leader of the party they say...rush..beck..hannity

    when dems are asked who the leader is they say obama, biden, hilary

    this sums up the issue

    August 23, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. zandhcats

    "Fear of Rush is not what's stopping people, it's fear of massive tax and spending increases and massive encroachment on peoples natural rights."

    Our tax revenue's still lower than 90s,and a lot of social programs already cut since Obama has been in WH, are those still cannot satisfy with you Tea Party? Why don't you suggest your Party to cut their benefits and salaries. Congress only works 126 days,both you and your party are parts of the big government!

    August 23, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. greg

    Politicians only fear one thing -lack of financial backing for their next campaign. Politicians today work tirelessly to get re-elected, yet seem almost catatonic when it comes to living up to the responsibilities that come with their position. Lobbies and special interest groups toss money around like confetti, buying votes -yes, they buy them even if the government refuses to call it such-of endless politicians. It's been made worse by the Supreme Court's ruling that companies are allowed to contribute to election funds. Why? who the heck knows -companies are not living entities, nor are they a person or people. To me, when a company contributes to a campaign, it shows to me that EVERY individual in that company AGREED to donate to one person's fund over another person. To me It seems difficult to get every worker in a company to vote or back one person. So, in my opinion, how can a company donate funds, when they probably don't have 100 percent backing of it's own employees to do so?

    August 23, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. dh

    At this point in bush's 2nd term pres Bush had used over 350 vacation days. Pres Obama not including last week had used less than 97 days. You pitiful repubs forget how deep a mess Bush left us in. Now you want pres Obama to clean up 2 wars costing us billions, failed wall st/banking systems, almost bankrupt auto industry using the same failed bush crap that got us in this mess to get out of it. The american people told you...TWICE...we voted not to do that again. The president has tried to compromise but you idiots think you won the election. YOU LOST, move out of the way.

    August 23, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Auntie Rush

    A hundred years ago we would call a plan to shutdown the gopvernment by its real name: "ANARCHY". Now the rilght wing tea-partiers led by Senator Cruz and his"blinkmanship" have the same goal, although byent methods, and deserve the same label.

    August 23, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. RAndy Newman

    It's a very weak party that would fear a radio anouncer.

    August 23, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. John

    Funny to read these people quoting Rush and repeating nonsense they get from his show and then trying to deny it. As if they individually came up with the same lies and BS all by themselves. The right wing noise machine of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck make a living by misleading the uniformed and angering the ignorant. The ones that cry the loudest about the ACA could not begin to even explain what it actually is. The comments prove the ignorance is at record levels. Todays GOP is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. Ever.

    August 23, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. Rosa

    Of course they agree, most of what Obama is doing was originally their ideas, obamacare, warrant less wire tapping, fISA courts etc...

    August 23, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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