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. a disgrace

    congress needs to continue to prevent obama from gaining access to any of what is left of america's money until a regular president can be elected......

    August 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Padraig

    There is some consideration to his comment. Many people do not like Limbaugh or the Tea Party but who we dislike most of all is President Obama.

    August 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. kaneda

    This is the funniest article I read this week!

    August 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Jerry Okamura

    "Some" democrats do not agree with the President, who are they "afraid off"?

    August 23, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Andrew

    I keep waiting for Republicans to show courage, principle and integrity and cleave into two parties. But they have none of it.

    August 23, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. the hippies were right

    @Yolanda, Facts are Facts! If you can't comprehend the difference between fact and opinion, then I can not only feel sorry for you, but blame you for spreading false information that affects everyone. But, I have no doubt you could never admit you were wrong regardless of any facts laid before you. Wake up!

    August 23, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. Me


    Personally I would give the GOP/TP 100% of the blame if the government is shut down or our nation's credit rating is lowered again. I am in my 50's and I voted republican nearly my entire adult life (I'm a vet of 20+ yrs), but today i cannot stand them. the religious right and Tea party are completely out of line with reality.

    When the GOP signed the NORQUIST PLEDGE, they sold their souls to the devil (Big Money).
    wow you have been brain washed buddy, I guess being in the military you are used to being told what to do and how to think!!! Our credit rating was tanking because the agencies know we CAN'T keep spending like money grows on trees, they see how much dept the US has and see that the current president won't STOP spending!!! You need to grow up and see what it happening!!!! This has NOTHING to do with Norquist pledge it has to do with RESPONSIBILITY!!!!!!

    August 23, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Colleen

    The Tea Party and the Libertarians have divided the Republican Party. They are now battling amongst themselves and that will be the cause of their downfall and implosion. Can't happen soon enough for me so we can have are country back rather tan being held hostage by these selfish, self-important losers.

    August 23, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. SPW

    Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party are hardly dominating factors in any political debate

    This is just the President trying to simplify the problem by painting the opposition red

    August 23, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. mjosephlong

    I believe what he is saying, and not because I believe everything a President says, because I've watched interview with Rush Limbaugh and I believe he has a lot of dirt on a lot of people that gives him the power. Its time for someone to find a lot of dirt on Mr. Limbaugh and shake up his world – remove that power. Its time to stop the lobbyists from controlling how the Government Elected officials vote or make their decisions. It is time for them to make decisions based on what the people want – not the party itself!

    August 23, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    "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."
    By his on measure, Boehner is a failure. What has he repealed? Let's give him a shove in the right direction.

    Boehner can start with the Bush Tax rates on capital gains. People are cheating and gaming the system. Instead of pulling down a large salary, people are taking smaller salaries and are being paid "a bonus" based upon profit, a capital gain.

    Next, he can move on to repealing the contractors that have "privatized" so many government services and jobs. The cost of paying contractors far exceeds that of hiring and paying employees. There's far more to it than simply paying an hourly wage. The contractors carry the overhead of staffs, their own buildings, their own pensions and benefits, and most importantly, PROFIT. There is no cost equivalent to profit in the public sector. None.

    From there he can move on to some of the corporate welfare entitlements, AKA subsidies. that exist in some industries.

    August 23, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. GoTparT

    In response to "hippies were right"- we already have an equal pay law for women; why is another necessary? If someone broke into your home and brought his family, you'd let them all stay? People in poor areas need ID to cash checks, so what's the big deal? There are so many birth control options available now, INCLUDING ABORTION, there is no reason that a woman should need an abortion after the first trimester. Nobody has taken away voting rights for blacks. They never will. Get a mirror. BTW, the hippies were LEFT.

    August 23, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Vince

    I can't wait for the government shutdown. It worked out so well for the GOP when they pulled that in the 90s. When we don't learn from our mistakes...we're doomed to repeat them.

    August 23, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Marcia

    I agree with Obama-examples of Limbaugh's power over the Republican party have already been documented-with Repubs apologizing to him or doing a 360degree turnaround in something they said that Rush disagreed with-the problems is that Rush and Beck, and Hannity ARE the leaders of the party and the so-called leaders are afraid of them -remember the clown show of the Rep primary in the last election-the teaparty is destroying the Repub party and would destroy the country if we let them

    August 23, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Brian

    What does it matter, the debt has been stuck at 16,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx for how many days now? Deficit spending hasn't decreased so al that means is Obama et. al. are just drumming up another fake crisis.

    August 23, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Mark

    He might be whining a little on this one, but there is no denying that right wing media does bully their own.

    August 23, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. dave

    More softball questions on CNN show you're not afraid Barry go on Fox and try your comments

    August 23, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. Just_One

    If you're worried about a primary fight back home then aren't you saying your current positions do not represent the wiche3s of the people who elected you? The establishment career politicians in the DC government need to be reminded they answer to the folks back home and not to obama

    August 23, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Catherine

    I do believe it is O who fears Rush, I am in my 50's and I have never seen a President so pre-occupied with a radio host – sad, wish he was pre-occupied with making America the best 😦

    August 23, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. Chris

    I will definitely vote against anyone willfully giving into Obama's demands until someone trustworthy can take his place.

    August 23, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. R G

    five week recess (vacation) now all of a sunned republicans are favoring obama in private hmmmmmmmm I wonder what that means

    he favors that congress gets all those ;long vacations so he does not have to worry about republicans making him look bad

    August 23, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. Me

    the hippies were right

    @Tone, Exactly, let's see some details from all the Obama haters, instead of one liner talking points you memorized from Fox or Rush. Or just continue to be laughed at!
    Typical liberal, wants everyone ELSE to do the work for you!!! Look it up your self but then you will see the TRUTH and you don't want to see that!!!

    August 23, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. kdallmer

    If there is a Shutdown do to this Republican impasse, I will probably lose my Defense Contractor Job do to the resulting CUTS and I will blame the Republican Party.. I will disavow any membership with them and certainly campaign to remove every Republican from office, from my local government to congress .. they have become poison to America

    August 23, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Econ301

    Wade Moran:

    I support the Idea we need to spend less money.

    But I can't support a party that runs around stoking fear of Socialism where none exists. Please explain how making you buy your choice of insurance from private individuals is socialism? Or perhaps why you believe that healthcare is an excludable market (AKA if you can't pay we should turn you away) How does it make sense to turn people away from getting healthcare when they are sick In a world of infectious disease, even more so when catching things early is in everyone's best interest.

    August 23, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Independent

    End The Party

    This is why we need to end the political party here in the USA. Both parties are too busy fighting for power and money and have little time left to govern.
    This is the absolute truth!!!!! I have been saying this for a while now. Problem is that both parties are so extreme and partisan that it will never happen! Sad cause this has been and will be the down fall of the US.

    August 23, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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