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. Dave

    Barry... you lie

    August 23, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  2. john h

    If you believe this, there is a Santa. The statement is so self serving.

    August 23, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  3. az

    When welfare payments exceed minimum wage, we go broke cuz nobody can afford to work a regular job. Thank you Mr financial wizard!

    August 23, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    Are there any republicans out there who've been to see the Wizard? they either have no heart, no brain, or no courage, or none of the above. it's obvious they care nothing about this country or they would never even give one thought about shutting down the government or defaulting on our debt. they are a disgrace to their offices and this country. and Boehner wants to repeal laws rather than enact them? sounds like an anarchist to me. when are we as a country going to wise up and stop putting people who hate government IN government???

    August 23, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  5. termlimits

    The left always lacks reason. Socialism is the philosophy of failure. The creed of ignorance. The gospel of envy. Its inherent virture is the equal sharing of misery! Churchill

    August 23, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  6. Richard

    Obama has said if lots of young healthy Americans don't join the healthcare it won't work. Many of his supporters have said the same thing. Many have said they won't, well guess what, most healthy young Americans plan on paying the fine instead oG getting it. So if congress funds it, we will be even deeper in debt

    Plus add the cost of all the IRS and HHS and people being hired to push this, we are in major trouble

    August 23, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. Dave Long

    A classic indicator of the problems (sooooo many) associated with believing there's just one way for all of us. Never was, never can be. Can't you get that through your thick, Johnny-one-note skulls? How long will we be paying for Bush's indiscriminate warmongering? There are even conservatives still trying to save face by claiming Syria's Assad is using Saddam Hussein's WMD's. In the extremely unlikely event that is true, Republicans compounded their original error by failing to follow up and neutralize that weaponry before it could be used. The right loses on all counts.

    August 23, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. cd

    What I think is hilarious is how conservatives keep trying to blame Obamacare entirely on Obama, because when asked repeatively to come to the table while it was being vetted and discuss/negotiate the specifics these same conservative morons stuck their fingers in their ears and ran around yelling "nah, nah, nah..." FACT: We are the only "high level society" backwards enough to still not have universal health care. FACT: The specific terms of Obamacare trouble me as well and a republican voice helping to negotiate some of those points would have been welcomne (if they weren's all scared little children). FACT: Considering that DOMA (Republican initiative) was near criminal in it's inception makes Republican's crying about Obamacare seem a little cheesy (one just costs money, the other costs a complete smearing of the constitutional guarantees our forefathers made).

    Just funny to me that the party that lives to force people to live under the painful weight of their party/religous beliefs and flips off the constitutions equal treatment clause more often than Miley Cyrus takes naked photos of herself, could possibly have the balls to cry "He's forcing us... he's so unamerican..."

    FACT: the most unamerican of all americans wear red.

    August 23, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Tyler

    Such arrogance. "Everyone agrees with my view they just won't agree to it"

    August 23, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. Tony Torres

    The only way we can these idiots (Tea Party/GOP) to understand what the country needs at this time is try and generate JOBS. Instead of using all that hot air & BS against Obama why don't they attempt at doing the job that is required of them and do something right for the US and not worry about the primary, at least you showed you had character while you where there. But the best way is get those Bums out of there!

    August 23, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. mirageseekr

    I like when Obama said shutting down the government would hurt the middle class. I wasn't aware that there was a middle class left after the last two administrations. I know quit a few people that have been told you are now part time. Thanks again Mr. President.

    August 23, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. Greyhound37

    Secretly there are also Democrats who think maybe we should quit borrowing and start at least trying to be fiscally responsible.

    LOL, just kidding! We all know every Democrat just wants to keep spending money. Someday we'll be able to take more of other people's money to fund it, so don't worry about it!

    August 23, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. steve851

    Given what we've had the past two decades under both parties, being a record low on passing laws is a very good thing. Do no harm

    August 23, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  14. ricardo1968

    Letting the 'entertainer' Rush Limbaugh call the shots in the Republican party is a massive leadership failure. How can anyone vote for these people?

    August 23, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  15. jerome

    Obama is delusional, plain and simple.

    August 23, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Ely

    Elkwc, you most definitely can have it both ways when you're the president

    August 23, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  17. korkea aika

    let's see if republicans want to further damage our struggling economy. i hope to God they take the heat for it if they do, and that the sliver of a minority that votes the extreme right will wake up and join the rest of us.

    August 23, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. smdahl

    Don't listen to the VOTERS! We in DC know what's best.

    August 23, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. determinant

    Just curious. What is wrong with Obamacare? I would like to here from someone why it is so bad without the name calling and screaming about socialism, etc. What is wrong with the law? What do you have against everyone getting good health care and being insured? Why is a healthy population bad for the economy? Why is it bad to force insurance companies to not drop someone the second they get a major disease and to cover everyone equally? How would you insure everyone working, unemployed, poor, disabled, etc. has access to the same health care that a wealthy individual has. Any answer that doesn't include a plan is just a bunch of hot air.

    August 23, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. Pez

    Talk about passing the buck! This president can't do his job because of ... wait for it ... Rush Limbaugh!!! Last I checked the guy holds no public office and only mouths-off to sell radio time. After six years of failure the excuses just get worse!

    While there are I'm sure Republicans that privately detest the idea of shutting down the government, I'm equally sure there are many Democrats that are sickened by the administration's lack of fiscal responsibility but refuse to buck the party line.

    This is an ugly example of President Obama pandering to the audience by invoking the image of a political boogie-man, Rush Limbaugh in this case, in order to accomplish what he is unable to do through leadership.

    August 23, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. klc

    They told him in "private". Riiiiigggggt.

    August 23, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. Joe

    Internet and the information age killed the GOP!

    August 23, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  23. ricke1449

    Now not only can Obama make the oceans part but he can read minds Next he will be creating a solar system.

    August 23, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  24. Manuel J.

    All this from the guy who speaks about equal and fair treatment, while making idle threats about using force to stop use of chemical weapons.

    So much for his red line and intestinal fortitude.

    U.S. Army combat vet
    1st Infantry Division

    August 23, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  25. CurmudgeonTx

    Odd...the entire story, not one Republican was listed who privately or otherwise agrees with Obama. Empty story to prop up an empty suit.

    August 23, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
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