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. Joe

    Just think how bad things would be now if Romney was president. Republicans need to quit crying about losing election and do something meaningful to earn their pay.....

    August 23, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. DustyOnes

    The only thing Republicans and Obama agree upon is that he is a putz.

    August 23, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. John

    They're like a bunch of little spoiled brats. "We'll shut down the whole government if we can't have our way!" Healthcare was passed. The Supreme Court says it's okay. Get over it and do something worthwhile.

    August 23, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Chris

    From reading on here, the only people that keep pointing out the color of the President's skin are Democrats.
    Not the content of his character. The President that has expanded the spying on citizens more than any other President...

    August 23, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Latest Victim

    IIt's only Obama who has threatened to shut down the govt. He started that talk. If it gets shut down it will be his choice.

    August 23, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. bill.x

    We democrats have a secret plan to help True Republicans, but it can't be revealed at this time.

    August 23, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. nintex

    So let me get this straight. Our duly elected government representatives are more afraid of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News than they care about doing what's right for this country. Is there maybe something wrong with this picture?

    August 23, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. mcjny007

    Obama is only saying out loud what the vast majority of americans are say as well. Nobody in that legislative branch is doing anything. All they do is bicker and use the american people as a hostage for the interests of their rich benefactors. Each one of these so called wars with obama haven't hurt him at all. They have hurt the people. Perhaps there is a segment of the country that feels good about what this congress has achieved. Being against obama is enough for a small segment of voters. While the rest of us want a government that works, and that works for all of the people. not just the billionaires. The answer is simple. If this were the private sector, we would fire everybody for dereliction of duty and incompetence. Why should we the people use a lower standard?

    August 23, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Vickie Holbrook

    I'm pretty sure that he'll go down in history as the most in-effective POTUS we've ever had. Right up there with Jimmy Carter. He stinks and I'm sick of hearing him talk! Has Syria crossed the proverbial "Red Line" yet? Incompetent, clueless, muslin sympathizer. Nobody fears us anymore, because they understand that this president is not going to do ANYTHING. This country still may be the land of the free, (for now), but when it comes to our so called "leaders", it is no longer the home of the brave, sadly.

    August 23, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. sly

    Another example of why President Obama is one of the most successful Presidents in history.

    He killed America's #1 enemy of all time.
    He ended 2 Bush Oil Wars.
    He provided Health Care for 39 million Americans, helping bring America out of 'underdeveloped nation' status.
    Immigration reform is coming.
    He ended Federal Discrimination againest people based on race, religion or preference.

    But best of all, He ended 200+ years of White Male Rule.

    Not the best President ever, but certainly top 5.

    August 23, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Mark B

    This president just can't contain his self-love. He is a miserable failure as president who couldn't get the Golden Girls to work together. This guy is a divider, lacking vision, understanding and most importantly passion for his country. His disconnect is on display daily.

    August 23, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. iceload9

    "avoid a government shutdown" Well it keeps these hacks in both parties away from making decisions about unemployment, runaway healthcare costs and corporate welfare. The three cancers that will end this country.

    August 23, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. XanJester

    Republicans threatening to cause more harm to our country if they don't get their way. What a surprise!!!

    August 23, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Ken

    Anyone still buying this fake two-party system is an idiot.

    August 23, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Vickie Holbrook

    hippie power 69: The conservatives care about limited govt, personal responsibility, i.e. working for a living and not off of us and traditional family values. The things that made this country great. What's wrong with that? You idiots voted for change and you sure as hell got it, didn't you? Unfortunatley, the rest of us have to suffer for your stupid vote. I love this country, but I am so done with the Democrats and the Republicans. They have ALL forgotten that they work for the people. Somebody needs to remind Mr. and Mrs. Obama that they are not royalty. It's time for him to step up and be a leader, do the job that ALL OF US are paying him to do. He's a joke and I can't wait to see him go.

    August 23, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Thaddius

    Chris – "From reading on here, the only people that keep pointing out the color of the President's skin are Democrats.
    Not the content of his character. The President that has expanded the spying on citizens more than any other President..."

    Let's not forget what party OVERWHELMINGLY voted for the Patriot Act, the Extension of the Patriot Act in 2011, and voted AGAINST limiting the NSA powers in July. Hint: it wasn't the Democrats.

    August 23, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Buddha

    All these fools care about is getting reelected. They have no sense of civic duty, of doing what's right for the country, just how many votes something may cost them or if somebody might run in a primary against them Disgusting idiots.

    August 23, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Dave1157

    "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."

    So in other words, the Speaker of the House (third in line for the Presidency) thinks regression is more important than progress??? Why is that so easy to believe? Could it be because that's been the Congressional modus operandi for the past five years?

    Forty times they've voted to repeal a law knowing they don't have enough votes in the House or Senate to override the inevitable presidential veto. Still, they've brought the issue to the table and voted on it forty times. How many times have they voted on a budget (one that didn't include repealing Obamacare)? How many times have they voted on meaningful jobs legislation? How many times have they voted on anything truly constructive?

    Well, since Boehner wants Congress to be judged on how many laws they repeal, let's pose the question. Just how many laws have you successfully repealed Mr. Speaker? I'd say by your own standards, the House of Representatives is a complete failure. Time to clean house.

    August 23, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. jharry

    "Right now, Congress is on a near record low pace for passing laws, "

    Sounds good to me.

    August 23, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Vickie Holbrook

    Sly: I thought it was the Navy Seals that killed America's number #1 enemy. Thanks for clearing that up. Obama has no spine and all of us are going to pay for it. He's a coward.

    August 23, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Buddha

    all they goons care about is getting reelected.. They have no sense of civic duty and doing what's right fo for the country, all their worried about is keeping the cushy job and votes. Disgusting idiots

    August 23, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Name Edog

    GOP is the most dysfunctional party and it shows! Vote democrat folks, they care about middle class Americans!

    August 23, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. ncmyk

    Boehner wants to be judged by the number of laws he's repealed.

    Well, that number is zero.

    August 23, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. RRJ

    Getting tough on the poor and needy to win elections? Not even Hister was that stupid. Ted Cruz? He may very well raise that bar, (or would it be lower the bar).

    August 23, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. Red

    Obama is living in a fantasy land. No Republican is afraid of Rush Limbaugh. And no Republican in his right mind agrees with Obama on any subject. This president is the most brain damaged clown we have ever had in the White House.

    August 23, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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