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. Dan

    OK Speaker Boehner . . . how many laws have been successfully repealed by the current congress . . . actual number that have made it all the way through the repeal process, not just theatrical repeal votes please. My guess is that even by that highly questionable measure of achievement, this congress has still failed miserably.

    August 23, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Robertson

    The GOP, at least those with any balls, are willing to stand up against Obama and his healthcare law. The GOP have said time and again that they will fund all other government programs EXCEPT Obamacare. This is something that Obama would have to agree to and be willing to COMPROMISE on provisions of his law that most Americans object to. IF the government is shut down, it falls squarely on the President, NOT the House. The media, again, is only telling half the story and follows Obama, again, like lost puppies.

    August 23, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Sure is a whole lot of hollering going on in this thread. Why does the mere mention of Ted the Canadian draw such negativity and angst from the oh so very right wing of America?

    Bottom line? This dude is filled to his brim with all that is wrong within the GOP.

    [ sigh ]

    August 23, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. The Buddah

    Both parties stink, neither is willing to compromise. If we are going to move forward as a nation both parties need to recognize that it is not their way or the highway. Quit putting your party first and find the middle way, compromise for goodness sake.

    Also big business needs to get out of politics. Politicians no longer answer to voters, they answer to CEO's, Unions, and the NRA.

    August 23, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. paul

    "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."

    This is among the most asinine things Boehner has ever said, and he's said many. Exactly how do you think you repeal a law? You PASS a new law repealing it. So the fact that they're passing new laws at an all time low also means that they're not repealing them either. Typical Boehner-speak for doing nothing useful for anyone.

    August 23, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. chuck

    "Maybe if Obama would stop his reckless spending and wasting the tax payer's money. Congress might agree to give him more money. I am tired of my tax dollar being spent on Obama;s useless pet projects which the majority do not want anyhow. I am all for it, shut the Goverment down till spending is brought under control"

    So basically you want your taxes spen on republican pet projects only? because it was happening when all other presidents were in office....but now you have a problem with it.

    August 23, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Robert S Weikle

    I am so tired of the republicans whining. Wake up, you lost the 2008 presidential election by 10million votes the 2012 by 5million votes. Affordable Care Act passed and signed by our new President, it was upheld by the Supreme Court with a deciding vote from a republican party appointee. An where are these common sense approach ideals to healthcare that the Republicans keep referring too. 37 times the House has voted to repel the law of the land, what other legislation have they voted on 37 times in the past 5 years. Be careful Republicans. I still believe in my heart that there are those in political power who fill a black man should not be President , that fill the weak should perish, that our military needs vehicles, planes, ships that even our military leaders say they don't need, however they buy votes in our politicians districts / states. What a sad state of affairs, 2008 election was a election of faith, hope, and a new beginning for America with our first black President, o how far we had come as a nation. Now I believe w are all in despair and have lost faith in our political system, an yes I do hold the Republican party responsible. From a discouraged republican.

    August 23, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. PhillyConservative

    I am a Republican, but I am also a realist. In order for the GOP to gain acceptance of the middle class again, it needs to compromise and move closer towards mainstream thinking. I am tired of the radical conservatives and Evangelicals who have hijacked my party over the past 30 years, dictating our platform and using bully tactics to get what they want. Do I like Obamacare? Not really. The Act has some good elements (coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.) but the implementation is flawed. Do I think our existing system is any better? No. Someone needs to put a sock in Limbaugh and also silence the Evangelicals and Tea Party people.

    August 23, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. U.S. Citizen

    It's no surprise that the GOP agrees with Obama.
    Bush seeded power and policies to Obama.
    Political Parties are just tools used by oligarchs to beguile the electorate.

    August 23, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. frank

    obamacare will help just the people who say they are poor but have jobs off the books and want everything for nothing.

    August 23, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. Debbie

    Oh boy! GOP will vote to repeal the affordable care act again, take a pass on funding the government and take another vacation.
    Yes, everyone in the GOP is scared of Rush. He controls the air time for or against anyone that doesn't agree with him.
    The GOP will field another group of extreme, and unelectable candidates.
    I'm *still* waiting for the GOP to tell everyone what exact health care reform we should be embracing. Still waiting..........

    August 23, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. TomGI

    I guess the only solution is to disband the federal government and anoint Rush as Lord Supreme Ruler For Life

    August 23, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. sarah

    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"

    This is like saying that the police are holding somebody hostage since they're not giving in to the hostage-takers' demands.

    August 23, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. works4me

    What's missing in my later years... the UNITED States of America. We have morphed into the DIVIDED States of America. United we are strong, divided we are perceived as weakened, by other nations. Surely there must be something that can be agreed on. The GOP is so concerned that the Obamacare will be a huge success that they're willing to stoop to these obstructionist methods. They're concerned about more about the opinion of a well nourished bigmouth Rush on the radio? They need to be concerned about "For the People" and not so clearly for the Party. Then, and only then, will they start to regain some credibility.

    August 23, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. rc

    Talk talk talk. All Obama does is talk. He doesn't negotiate, he doesn't play know, the thing he's supposed to do, where he concedes something he doesn't want that the other side does in order to get something he does want. Instead, Obama is all "my way or the highway". He plays the president as a dictator. The president is not supposed to make laws, but enforce them. Yet he's perfectly willing to push through executive orders to try to get around the legislative body. Congress is doing exactly what it should, the way it was designed to. About Obamacare, many many many people hate it as the full package. Many Democrats support it based not on personal belief, but on party lines to stay in agreement with the president. Many Republicans oppose it, partly on personal belief, partly to support those citizens and businesses that oppose such a sloppy plan. It forces everyone to have insurance, it ensures everyone has insurance by taking some of your tax money and using it to fund people that can't afford it, it fines you if you refuse to have insurance. Most of the details of Obamacare still aren't solidified. Insurers are confused. Citizens are confused. Businesses are confused. It appears that it will be more expensive for everyone across the board. Businesses are looking to convert many of their full-time workers to part-time just so they don't have to deal with the headache (or believe they won't be able to afford it) of insuring their employees. The entire thing is a train wreck of the highest order.

    But all we hear from Obama is that people refuse to work with him. I wonder why.

    August 23, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Ken from FL

    Why is Obama so afraid of Limbaugh? Why does he keep on hyping this vast right-wing conspiracy headed by Limbaugh? Is it because he's the most incompetent, feckless President in US history and needs a scapegoat to explain away his failures?

    August 23, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Obama, you have been the President for nearly 5 years, start acting like it. Quit blaming others for your shortfalls. The only ones that have benefited from your policies are the fatcats on wallstreet and Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Immeldt, Oprah, Al Gore, the unions, etc. Where is the transparency? Please address Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, etc. and other real issues. Please comment on the OK and WA killings by blacks of innocent white people.

    August 23, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Erik

    Here's how this works.

    I am an American citizen. I do not support the new health-care act. I would not like to pay for it. I told my representative not to fund it. Many more Americans did the same thing and the representatives are listening. They compromised, when they agreed to fund every other program in government other than this one program. To compromise further, would be to ignore the will of their voters. The majority of Americans are now aligned with this thinking that the health-care act is unpolished and will cost us dearly.

    Obama goes to the media threatening to shut down the government if his health-care act is not funded, and somehow it's spun to sound like the GOP are shutting down government.

    The end.

    August 23, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. CommonSensed

    The fringes of both parties will be the death of our country. There is no longer a voice for moderation and common sense.

    August 23, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Don DaMiddle

    It has nothing to do with "Right vs Left, Conservative vs Liberal, of Congress vs Obama".
    The Worst House Of Representatives Ever (W.I-I.O.R.E) can't negotiate a Bi-Partisan Budget...
    because 70% of the GOP has signed "PAC Pledges" (in exchange for Lobbyist bribes) NOT TO NEGOTIATE.
    This has to end in 2014. I can't believe that a political faction so corrupt... would call themselves a Tea Party.

    August 23, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Alan

    So why do the Democrats and Obama want to shut down government? Because they cannot govern and Obama is a tiotal failure as a president. e cannot lead and simply wants to rule by executive order. It is his way or the highway! In Obama's own words Republicans can sit in the back of the bus, keep quiet like blacks of old and they can ride. The racist in chief is a sad pathetic human being.

    August 23, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Kate

    The GOP are a bunch of terrorists holding the country hostage, despite majority opinions.

    August 23, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. pattianne

    The only ones talking about Rush and the Tea Party are the President and the Democrats. I believe they are the ones who are afraid. How about trying to actually do something in Washington instead of trying to play the constant blame game. I also blame both parties for not compromising, but the President will not go to Capitol Hill and try to talk to both sides and come to some type of agreements on all subjects. I have never seen such a whiner in my life. I taught school for many years and my students didn't whine as much as this administration.

    August 23, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Scott

    Obama can keep dreaming his dreams, no Republican is going to side with Obama.

    August 23, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Freedom Storm

    Tyranny declares dictionary ownership:

    Obstructionist: Any Republican who constantly blocks the new author of this book from shredding the Constitution.

    August 23, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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