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. AKknight

    It's funny.......he wants to say Republicans PRIVATELY agree, here's a clue....EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN AGREES, that a government shutdown is a bad idea. What he fails to see though is that we have ALL AGREED that many of his executiv e orders were a bad idea, he wrote them any way. We NEARLY all agree the healthcare law is a bad idea....he ignores that. We ALL AGREE the facts on Bengahzi should be brought into light....he refuses to assist in doing that. WE ALL AGREE that targeting certain groups by the IRS is a bad idea....he ignores he will listen IF THEY SHUT DOWN THE STINKING CRAPHOLE OF A GOVERNMENT.

    August 23, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. volsocal

    Their closet fears are well founded. The Republicans that agree with Obama on record deficit spending are the ones we conservatives want to get rid of.

    August 24, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. Melissa Crockett

    Mr. Obama: show me your list. I dare you.

    August 24, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  4. Mark

    Attempting to – yet again – bring the government to a standstill will definitely be blamed on the GOP just as it way the last time; it might satisfy some more strident factions but it will backfire in the general election. very dumb strategy.

    August 24, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  5. Susan

    Mr Obama, I just don't believe you.

    August 24, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  6. Al

    Tax payers don't want to see Grandma go without their check. Tax payers don't want to see Military men and women in uniform go without their check for the work they do. No one wants to see the government shut down, but hey there's not been a budget since the Clinton era and it was well short for they were to busy overspending.

    So, let's talk about some good cuts, let's cut off 90% of the funding to the Department of Agriculture, let's close down funds that go to countries that want to see America blown away. Let's cut funds to groups that have been defrauding the tax payers for years, example are Welfare recipients and such. Let's start holding the CEO of the country accountable for the spending spree that has been taking place, let's stop borrowing and once the debt is lowered below 10 TRILLION that's 10,000,000,000,000.00 There is no real need to have the counties debt that high, and where has the money that Obama has agreed to borrow gone, I can say this, I didn't see a dime of that money, but have to pay for it. So, has that money helped the country grow or has the money only created a false sense of growth, just like Japan did, and we all know what happened to Japan in the 70's, they inflated their economy and finally had to allow the crash to happen so they can truly get out of the depression they were in. They did that and people managed to find jobs as there was no longer any handouts from the government.

    August 24, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  7. ray

    Obama is doing a fantastic job from my vantage point... House in my town that once sat unsold for days on end are now selling.. everytime I save a search its gone the next month. The service and labor sector is seeing steady employment. Markets are rebounding. I the repubs wou d move out of the way things might happen faster.

    August 24, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  8. Nothing At All

    Lets follow Sen Coburn's strategy to seek cuts through debt ceiling legislation and watch the stock market tank again.

    August 24, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  9. Cecil

    Here is an idea, Congress should try reading the constitution they are sworn to defend. How many of you know every single member of congress gets between 3 and 11 million dollars a year for office expenses. That is 535 members of congress getting $1,605,000,000.00 for office expenses like furniture, copy paper, and such. That is the low side of the number. This doesn't include travel expenses, business expenses, housing allotments, and that fat salary.

    My question is why can't Congress do it's job? I mean I have just shown they are extremely well paid for it. I don't like all of Obamacare either folks, but after 45 times of an attempt to repeal it and 45 times it being blocked, I would have to say it ain't gonna happen. Don't you think they should be moving on to something like they can do, get a budget passed, and get a jobs bill passed, as well as an infrastructure bill

    August 24, 2013 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  10. Edwin

    elkwc: if you kick out all the RINOs as you call them – the republicans who believe in country first, party second – then you will be only have a to-American extremists left.

    Even by manipulating election laws that extremist party cannot last forever. It will die out, forcing the democrats (who now represent the left, the middle, and under your model will even represent part of the right) to split into two parties to split into two parties if we choose to keep the two party system.

    August 24, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  11. Scott

    I like Boehner's idea of "seeing how many laws we can repeal", Yep, let's make this a lawless society for corporate America and special interests.

    August 24, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  12. MWCreel

    Shut it down; it's better than caving to the exortion of the Obama administration. He's constantly threatening to hurt the little guy if he doesn't get what he wants; its pathetic. He closes the White House to us, then goes on a multi million dollar vacation on our dime. Obama cares only about himself, not our country.

    August 24, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  13. losthollow

    Notice that he didn't mention who agrees withh him. Who are they? I don't believe a word this man says. Zero integrity. I do not buy any of his racist socialistic viewpoints.

    August 24, 2013 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  14. bob

    you mean they are afraid to admit that they work for the people. i am glad to hear they are afraid of us the people its time they learn they work for us they are sefvants not gods or kings

    August 24, 2013 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  15. LightningRod2

    This has to be a misprint. There's no way republicans agree with the President. No way ! They disagree with everything publicly. They are dishonest fanatics. The party of opposition to themselves. They oppose everything. They even oppose things they actually proposed just yesterday. It is just ridiculous the way they conduct themselves. Such hypocrites !

    August 24, 2013 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  16. JimRMD

    Quote from Obama: "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better". Now that he is in charge it is a MUST! Lack of Leadership?

    August 24, 2013 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  17. Kevin

    When Mr Obama was a senator, he spoke out about (and voted against) raising the debt ceiling, today he doesn't want to talk about it he wants congress to simply do it. When he was a senator, he attempted to filibuster a nominee to the supreme court, today he wants all nominees to get their hearing and an up or down vote. It's pretty clear that he wants to be treated differently then he treated his predecessor.

    August 24, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  18. Sometimes truth hurts

    "Obama understands the GOP about as well as he understands the economy and international relations"
    He sure does–not all that hard to understand greedy racist fools or those who believe them.

    August 24, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  19. johnny57

    Maybe many of the freshman republicans don't remember the last shutdown when Gingrich was around. It went over like a tons of bricks. If they are stupid enough to do this, they will suffer the consequences.

    August 24, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  20. chris

    and this is exactly why i will never vote for Cruze or Rubio. I really hope someone like Christe runs. i may not agree with all of his policies but he puts politics aside for the good of his state. too bad the GOP will never nominate him because of that.

    August 24, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  21. Mike

    Correction: NO we don't agree with you nor your love for spending without regards to how to pay for it. 2016 cannot come soon enough.

    August 24, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  22. Seth Ferriell

    Hey Mr. Cuomo, how about a follow-up question on the executive branch's legal responsibilities on presenting a budget and the president's record to comply?

    August 24, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  23. Clarke

    Any politician who worries about what others will say, should not be in politics. If you can't be true to yourself, how are you going to be true to the people you serve.

    August 24, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  24. taj

    The BS never stops from this guy. I wouldn't believe him if he said Washington DC was in Washington DC.

    August 24, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. sandra Sharp

    Anyone who ran on the platform of stopping this bill needs to follow through on that promise.

    August 24, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
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