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. TommytheT

    Really Mr Obama? Privately they agree with you? Why not then tell us all who they are and what they have told your privately? Or is this another one of the secret court type things in your most transparent administration eve?

    No Mr Obama, your little comical interview and this statement very much makes me believe you fear the tea party movement and the ground swell of the citizens that are saying enough is enough of this bloated, corrupt and out of control Federal Govt.

    August 23, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. JoeP

    LOL, fear of a talk show host? Grasping at straws here.

    August 23, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. Biophile

    Go Barack – Tell it like it is. Half of country being led by likes of Rush, Shawn and Grover. Shame on you!

    August 23, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Rushy

    One thing I'd like to see is all opinion broadcasts be held to a higher standard of telling the truth. Instead we deal with flat out lies and edited footage showing peoples words in the wrong context. Example: "you didnt build that" from the prez

    August 23, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. G D

    Mr. Obama is using limp measures to try to gain cooperation that he will never receive unless he uses the "bully" pulpit to its fullest. Budget initiation, veto, & others of the office including emergency powers. Chris Christie thanked the President for his use of those after Sandy, and he should have. The President's media campaign has produced nothing in terms of cooperation, he needs different approaches, and he needs our help. Even though I'm registered GOP, I have vast concerns about the inflexibility and uncooperative rhetoric coming from the Party. We need you to govern, not quibble like 4 year olds.

    August 23, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Jackson


    This story is so biased. The title says "GOP fears Rush" but it comes out of Obama's mouth. Congratulations CNN for an excellent piece of propaganda.


    Do you recall old Step'n Fetchit himself, Michael Steele? He got called on the carpet by Rush Limbaugh and had to apologize to Rush, for just speaking his own mind.

    Now, why would the RNCC Chairman (at the time) have to kowtow to a tv/radio commentator?

    Gee, could it be because it's true that some in the GOP fear what Rush can do to them?

    Refute the "propaganda".....we'll wait........

    August 23, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. buddoggin

    Historians will remember Obama as the Great Divider. I've never, In my many years on this earth seen this country so divided. Yes We Can turned into It's Your Fault.

    August 23, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. 2Km N of GZero

    YES! You can comment here. You are NOT ALLOWED to comment on Rush Limbaugh's site or Fox News. Do you have a right to tea but not free speech?

    August 23, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. Abbey

    Why is Obama "twitching" so much?

    August 23, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. DemoInAZ

    I truly place the blame on both the President and congress, it is the President's job to suggest creative idea's with the American people in mind and Congress to act on those suggestions. Congress has allowed themselves to be the black sheep of government. Choosing not to act and scare and dare the American public into thinking they are working towards our best interest. ObamaCare needs some fine tuning at best, but generally a good idea for the American people at this day and age. I don't agree with the plan, but do agree with the idea of affordable health care for everyone (I think the mandatory element is what sticks out for me). But there are other things that Congress needs to act on and hasn't or offered very little I.e budget, energy reform bill, immigration reform bill, etc). This is were I think the Congressional body can makes it's point the most by providing the American public their version and let the debate draw a conclusion of compromise. You can love or hate Bill C. but at least he knew how to work with the other side of the isle ( Ronald R. as well for that matter), and that falls on the shoulders of the highest CEO of the nation...The President. You have to be able to work relationships and so far this President has shown great speaking skills, but not so good people skills. I don't oppose his performance, given the situation he has had to deal with, and really don't can't blame Congress for holding their ground on what they believe is right, the problem lies between the two. The American people. We deserve to have a functioning government and a government who can put personal achievements aside and consider the best benefit of the American people.

    August 23, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. yolanda

    @the hippies were telling it is that you blame "Fox spews, etc. " as being the sole reason for the hate in this country, and then you proceed to launch into a small minded diatribe. Unfortunately, you are living proof that there is too much acrimony on both sides of the political divide. How hypocritical of you to accuse others of exactly what you are guilty of doing.

    August 23, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. Abbey

    Just for the record Madam Pelosi pounded into dust back in 2009 those conservative Democrats to get the votes for Obamacare. Mr. Obama the remaining moderates in the party fear the progressive hillbillies or didn't you notice?

    August 23, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. jksu2

    Get Real! Quit blaming talk radio and start governing the country. Start by cutting expense as that's what every citizen in this country would have to do in the real world.

    August 23, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. GoTparT

    Lie. Propaganda from the left. Ted Cruz does NOT want to shut down the govt. He wants a CR to defund Obamacare only. He has stated this publicly many times. It is the Dems who threaten to shut down the govt in protest of the CR, if one is passed.

    August 23, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. John

    The 2013 federal deficit has been revised downward from 950 billion to 750 billion from April's estimates....down from 6% of GDP to 4.7% of GDP.......bad news for the GOP as they want/need to characterize everything as falling apart, when of course, that isn't true......slow steady growth and improvements are in play, no matter how hard FOX/GOP try to characterize it otherwise....

    August 23, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Susan

    Mr Obama has been if not the worst president ever, certainly the worst in my lifetime. Why should republicans align themselves on his failing policies?

    August 23, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. Steve

    Ok Boehner- I'll judge you on how many laws you've repealed: 0

    August 23, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. wade moran

    No, we're afraid of your ideology, and of our country becoming socialist where half our money goes to everyone else, where anyone white has to walk the streets in fear of being ganged up and beat to death or shot in the back by people look like "your son" if you had one, and where, unless you're muslim, you do not have freedom of religion

    August 23, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. bryan

    Obama understands the GOP about as well as he understands the economy and international relations.

    August 23, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. the hippies were right

    There have been several bills written/sponsored by republicans that when brought to a vote, were voted against by the same republicans. How is this an equal issue with democrats. Which party is the party of "NO"? They are all guilty to some degree, but the majority of obstruction is on the right. Prove me wrong.

    August 23, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Searcher

    Do you expect the PARTY OF NO to actually do something? They wanted to prevent Obama's re-election. That didn't work. Maybe they should try something different, like actually governing....

    August 23, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. Me

    "Why are we even talking about," Obama questioned. "Why aren't we just getting that done?"
    What a JOKE, you CAN'T spend forever, it has to END!!! Liberals must think money grows on trees. I agree that we have to pay the bills we have already incurred but need to STOP new spending or at the very least, slow it down!!! This just shows you Obama's mind set, "why are we even talking about it", wow in his mind we can spend spend spend I guess....amazing.

    August 23, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Joe

    If you want to get the support of the people and enough from the GOP, start getting rid of waste. The government is full of it. On both sides. Stop the purchase of $400 million in tanks that the army says it doesn't need. Stop the obamaphone disaster. Cut food stamps back to those who really need it. Eliminate the stupid studies like why lesbians are fat and gay men are not.

    If you come out with real budget cuts in areas that are truly wasteful, you will have credibility to do what you want to. Just screaming that you need to spend more money when everyone sees horrendous waste just destroys your credibility.

    August 23, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. coyoteliberty

    Obama continues his wistful fantasizing for a one party state where the opposition exists in name only.

    The Purpose of the House of Representatives, the reason they were given small districts, short terms and the power of the purse strings, was to prevent a future president from having a rubber stamp to do any stupid thing he wanted.

    August 23, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. PJ

    The Tea Party in Congress has taken over the House. Shame on the GOP for allowing this to happen. Extremists on either side are wrong.

    August 23, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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