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. Tom

    Privately, I agree with Obama, but I don't say it out loud because I'm afraid people would know I'm wrong about everything.

    August 24, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. Bill Franklin

    From reading these comments, it's obvious why Conservatives are the less educated of the two extremes. They'll believe anything someone on the radio or TV tells them. Sheep.

    August 24, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  3. Thaddius

    Tony, the reason why the Republican congress are not doing things to help this country (focusing on jobs, addressing skyrocketing health care costs, voting to limit the NSA powers, et. al) is because they believe that any positive work would make Obama look good. They're in scorched earth mode.

    The problem is that many in our country are stupid and brainwashed (conservative pundits, FoxNews, Tea Party), and are going to buy their shenanigans hook, line, and sinker. Just read many of the comments here.

    August 24, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  4. Rob

    Obamas goal is to destroy America.
    If any republicans want to lick his butt, like Cristy did,
    Go for it and we will vote you out.
    Every socialized country minus Germany is in financial trouble, and he wants to make us a nation of people reliant on the government.
    So much a huge Obama supporter in Hollywood realized whats going on and made a Speech to the American youth about working hrd.

    August 24, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. billy

    Obama – Let's spend some more money we don't have. Oh that's right only congress has control of the money. So why do republicans claim Obama is spending money. Anyone with slight knowledge of our political system knows congress decides where the money goes not the president. Republicans just love spreading lies.

    August 24, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  6. petroskies

    what kind of private confidence some morons republicans confide in Mr. Obama, when many democrats never confess to him their owns private ideas, old proverb said with all wisdom : with a friend like that , anyone need enemies.

    August 24, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  7. Henry

    Obama needs to draw the line and end the short term deals with republicans and democrats. Long term deal is good for both parties and short term is causing financial havoc on society. If parties cannot come together then they need to step away from office and allow new members to balance the national finances!

    August 24, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. Johnny America

    That's too funny ................ Barry must have fell and hit his head.

    August 24, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. Jay88

    Speaker Boehner wants congress to be judged on how many laws it repeals?! Then why did they spend millions defending DOMA when over 60% of Americans wanted it repealed?! Yet we have voted how many times to repeal the ACA when the public is fairly divided on it?

    August 24, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  10. BillP

    So Republicans are really telling Obama in secret, "I would side with you, but I'm afraid of what voters back home might think."? Really? I think I smell a rat...

    August 24, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  11. frank

    Who are "They" BO? A shut down is need so you will realize We The People are the boss not you and your posse! You tax us to death. You want to Inspect or homes to see if they are safe? You exempt your self from Obamacare along with the Judicial Branch.. You spend $100M on ONE vacation, let alone all the other vacations. You GIVE Our money to Africa $7B. You Allow all of Congress to collect 80% of their salary for LIFE after one term in office. Exxon/Mobil or Conoco/Phillips do not have packages that sweet even for their CEOs who are under employment contracts. If they had the same benefit package you Professional Politicians have they would have been out of business decades ago. When an employee leaves the salary stops!!!!!!!! Impeachment may be at hand.

    August 24, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  12. Orygun Duck

    The GOP is cool with the idea of spending money when their guy is in the White House.

    August 24, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  13. Orygun Duck

    You fix the budget with economic growth. Something that NAFTA and sending jobs to China never could achieve.

    August 24, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  14. t2vodka

    Who cares, it's the peoples fault for being so stupid about their own government. We make such a big freaking deal out of electing a president, very very very few people vote on their mayor, their local congress men, you know, the ones that directly effect you, that make the rules. Until that starts happening, NOTHING will change.

    August 24, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Eric

    Really? Pretty sure he is wrong about this.

    August 24, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. ItSoNlYmE

    Or in other words, these Republicans are ONLY concerned about getting reelected, not in governing the country. If they weren't they would do the right thing, and not the thing they think will get them elected.

    Anyone ever read "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"? If you haven't it's okay, because you're living through it.

    August 24, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    I dare him to mention one GOP name. A psychopathic liar-he probably believes his own lies.

    August 24, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  18. Gene Howell

    Yes, Mr. President, the Republicans "privately" agree with you that you are an idiot who will say anything just to score brownie points for your political party while EVERYONE suffers for your incompetency.

    August 24, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  19. SpgfldTom

    Obama is correct! Republicans are privately agreeing he is a dork.......a fact the unwashed rabble have known for years.

    August 24, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  20. jakelabrador

    His imaginary Republican friends talking to him.

    August 25, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  21. jakelabrador

    Obama has been talking to his imaginary Republican friends again

    August 25, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  22. jakelabrador

    @Zach. The rich? Do you mean all those folks that go to Obama $38,000/plate fund raisers??

    August 25, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Des Perado

    Yes…I’m the Moslem-in-Chief and it gives me grief that Republicans only agree privately
    And if you all buy that then Oprah Winfrey isn’t fat and 17 trillion in debt is well…free
    So let’s don’t shut the governMENT down or spread it around that I really am blowing
    Tho I can’t understand why my ratings are in the can and my nose just keeps on growing !

    August 25, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  24. TBone

    Elaine Coker "drained every penny from the rich".News Flash,there are more millionaires in the U.S.than ever before.Your bailed out big bankers and over bloated military industrial complex are the major vampires to the system.It was your hero Reagan that kicked off this deficit spending game years ago.Not to mention the vulture capitalist investment bankers who do the best impersonation of what Big Paulie did to the resturant owner in the film Goodfellas.

    August 25, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  25. Jimmy Dean

    Secretly most Republicans don't agree with Obama. In fact recent polls have shown many Democrats don't agree with Obama.....This guy says more untrutsh than any politician I've seen in a long time. That is saying quite a lot because ALL politicians at this level speak untruths at a frequency level that would get most of fired from our jobs.

    August 25, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
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