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. bombastus

    It's just classic politics. Those who want to get the GOP nomination have to be anti-Obama all the way in order to get the tea baggers to give them the nomination. Once nominated the nominee needs to run from his/her own right wing positions in order to have any chance of winning. It's the 2012 playbook all over again. Romney the "severely conservative" candidate had to morph into moderate Mitt and no one bought it. The GOP has got to come up with something other than "If Obama is for it, we're against it". Withholding funding for a law that passed, whether they like the law or not, ain't gonna sell.

    August 23, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    This why we need term limited Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – have said that they would be willing to shut down the government this sound like Newt. The congress is trying to pass a bill to exempt them for the new Health Care plan this should making a lot news. It Is What It Is. Go President Obama The President of The United Of Stated America. Wheather you like the President or NOT!!!!!!!####$%

    August 23, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Leif

    The republican party should be afraid of Rush Limbaugh and the Tea party because the republican voters have had enough of their crap. It's time to get rid of McCain, Graham, Boehner, and a slew of others. I am a conservative and I am disgusted and abhor the Republican Party. I graciously approve this message.

    August 23, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. DustyOnes

    Time to get rid of the RINOS.

    August 23, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Econ301

    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!!!

    Seems like you didn't read the report they issued when they downgraded us, because they said exactly the opposite of what you just did. They said that they had no fear that we were unable to pay our debt, they were afraid that we would be unwilling to do so.

    August 23, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. FactsNotFiction

    The last time the Republican party led the way to not paying our government's bills, from July 29th, 2011 until just one week later, August 5th, 2011, my retirement plan lost over 3% of it's value. That was my money they played with. I still remember........and I'm still waiting for their check for my loss that they forced upon me and my family.

    Just the facts.

    August 23, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. GoTparT

    Ted Cruz does NOT want to shut down the govt. He wants a CR to defund Obamacare only. He has EXPLAINED 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 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Independent


    The thing that gets me the most is people just spitting out wild, unfounded accusations as though they're gospel. You can tell the people thta get their "news" from Fox, because they pretty much parrot back Rush and Hannity word-for-word. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and if you let someone else (anyone, from either side) think for you, it is a terrible thing ideed.
    Same thing can be said for all the liberals, in fact they are starting to be more extreme and more brain washed then repubs!!! Didn't used to be this way, started in Bush's second term and had gotten 10 times worse while Obama has been in office.

    August 23, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. Tim

    So damn tired of people accusing the President of pushing our country towards socialism, the way I see it American corporations unwillingness to pay a living wage to it's workers will be the biggest culprit, think about it if people don't have enough cash for basics the Government will have to step in and provide it and guess where they will get the funds to do it? From the top 1%, eventually they will be the only ones to tax. Suppressed wages are NOT a good thing for this great nation.

    August 23, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. harrisonhits2

    The GOP is in its death throes. It will take another 15-20 years before their power fades to almost nothing, but with the last election having more hispanic voters than caucasian for the first time, the angry while male population that makes up the bulk of the GOP voters will become more and more outnumbered.

    Posted by Me – "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!!!

    What as opposed to the GOP and their corporate cronies who want to see American workers as slaves ? When you're getting paid 1 dollar a day to work in a factory like the slave labor in China will you be complaining about your conservative wonders who have put you in that place ?

    Both parties are utterly and totally corrupt. GOP – Dems – conservatives – liberals, they're all owned by the corporations and special interests and do nothing with the good of the country and its people in mind.

    August 23, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. s~

    Obama is afraid of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

    August 23, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Tim

    @ Econ 301 The President does not spend the money, It has to be appropriated through Congress, Congrees spends the money !!

    August 23, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Independent


    Congress is corrupt due to no term limits. Both partiies are. I am a bit tired of the President and the democratic party telling us that the republican party is the devil. Just because they wont give up their beliefs and vote your way does not make them evil. I disagree with a ton of what both sides are pushing...I just miss the days when polititians worked together begrugingly and respected each others right to have a view. Now if you have a view that differs from the liberal backed demecratic party in any way shape or form you are a hindrance and a roadblock. Its like saying your wife or husband are a roadblock to the future of your family if they want you to comprimise – does this make sense to anyone?!
    VERY well written comment!!

    August 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. McBob79

    Snore... more rhetoric and inaction from the spin-doctor in chief.

    August 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. contraryjim

    What did the republican party give us to vote for?? NO wonder people who were disgusted with Obama found no choice. The looters are in control.

    August 23, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Rosslaw

    Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are willing to shut down the United States government. Are these guys even citizens and if so, of what country? Rubio invented a family story about escaping from Cuba which was bull and Cruz can't figure out where he was born. Sounds like Fidel might have planted a couple of sleepers decades back and they are now activated to bring down the US government.

    August 23, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    GoTparT wrote:

    Ted Cruz does NOT want to shut down the govt. He wants a CR to defund Obamacare only. He has EXPLAINED this publicly many times. It is the Dems who threaten to shut down the govt in protest of the CR, if one is passed.
    And you believed him. How typical. You've fail to notice that he's talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    Ted Cruz wants to shut down the government so that he can blame Pres. Obama for it. And, shut it down he will. I guess you must have missed the "speeches" he's made where he suggests that anyone not ready and willing to shut down the government is a not a real conservative like he is.

    August 23, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. steve jackson

    So the DEMOCRAT controlled Senate passes 1 budget in nearly 4 years and he blames the Republican House that has passed numerous budgets....

    Mr. President simply because you disagree with the budget does not mean they are obstructing you. Perhaps you should put on your big boy pants, STOP CAMPAIGNING (you won), and sit down with the House AND Senate and hash out one of those little compromise know the opposite of wildly uinpopular bills that you shove down the throat of the American people in the dead of night on the eve of losing control of Congress (Obama Care).

    You can say a lot about a lot of politicians. But no POTUS has ever been as obstructive, deflective of any blame as this president. He believes himself to be an annointed leader and that the 535 members of Congress should just bow to his every whim. That's not how the country works Mr. President.

    it is YOU that actually has very little constitutional power. Most of the power resides in the US Congress.

    August 23, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. DC

    This is the most hacked up peice of interview I've seen on must be incredibly hard to make the prez seem like hes genuine and eloquent....while he lies.
    When are you journalist at CNN going to turn up the flames on the obvious here? An overwheling majorty of people in this country have issues with whats going on in government and this with presidency.
    People will one day look back at how CNN acted during these times...and they will not be happy.
    If I were a true to heart journalist there, I'd find another job where my intergrity as a reporter/journalist would shine....not one where I would bend to managment or this presidency in fear of not getting close enough....Its time to start asking tough questions and letting the people really know how youre being treated in a room were others call the shots. Prove to us jouranlism is not dead! stick your neck out for the people of this country.....dont pander to this mess.

    August 23, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Nick

    The GOP won't shut down the government when they can instead push for a one-year delay – since Obama has already violated the law by doing that via executive fiat, Congress should up the ante and say"good for employers, good for individuals" and make Democrats vote for or against giving individuals the same relief under the "train wreck" that their corporate benefactors got. The GOP may be a little scared of Rush but my guess is Obama is a ot more scared of ACA being a mid-term election issue.

    August 23, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. justanaverageguy

    Look for Obama to sell us out on Social Security unless we can stop this. Republicans will offer to end the sequester in exchange for cuts to S.S.. This is what Obama wants anyway. This is all a massive fraud since Congress could simply vote to cancel the sequester. It is just cover to cut S.S..

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

    The inherent problem is the unelected, privately-owned central bank has controlled America's currency and economy more than any president or congress. It drains wealth from the U.S. government and purposely devalues our currency. We are all debt slaves which is the entire purpose of the bank in the first place. The dollar has lost 96 % of its purchasing power since the fed has been created. The most amount of power this bank yields to be in the hands of a few with hardly any checks or balances will allow our economy to be continually manipulated to the advantage of the few on the backs of the many. No president, or congressman, under our current system can affect the economy highhandedly as the fed. Rant over. lol

    August 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Rangerdos1

    Privately, top US military generals and space aliens have confided in me that they are afraid of Obama, and those people, and aliens that have confided in me, privately, give my statement here credibility. They also stated that I should get all the free beer and onion rings that I wanted from the DNC.

    August 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. wrm

    Man this guy is full it.

    August 23, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. frank

    Maybe a shut down is what is needed to get their attention. This runaway spending with no accountability is terrible for taxpayers. No one is watching the till. Each congress person gets roughly 80% of their annual salary for life after one term. If Exxon/Mobil or Connoco/Phillips practiced that for former employees they would have been out of business decades ago. The benefits package congress enjoys is way better than any private sector job out there today. This has to stop!

    August 23, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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