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. Sophie Meyer

    I agree with the president. As shameful as it is, the gop is more afraid of offending Rush Limbaugh – an overpaid windbag – than they are of offending their constituents. If it wasn't so pathetic, I might find it funny.

    August 23, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. IMeanReally

    Hahahahaha!!! Oh....that Obama is a hoot! Good stuff there Barry. You a funny man.

    August 23, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. TexaSam

    Republicans no longer care about American citizens, our health, or our Constitution. They clearly only care about avoiding primary challenges and continuing to receive bribes from Corporate Lobbyists.

    I don't even recognize today's Republican Party. In the past we could discuss issues with mutual respect. Today, it's all hate all the time complements of Fox and Rush Limbaugh.

    I'm glad I'm not a child that has to grow up with the economic and environmental damages done to this Planet by the Just Say No To The Black Man In The White House TeaPublican Party. I pity them their future if the GOP's anti-American behavior continues much longer.

    August 23, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Him

    Clearly, this is a joke ... right?

    August 23, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Hal

    At least college football starts next week.

    August 23, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Jeb

    The GOP fears the 21st century.

    August 23, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Darrell

    Come on, say it, we already know. The republicans that agree with you starts with Lindsay and ends with McCain.

    This president doesn't even want to follow his own law. Imagine if we all did that? Officer, I wasn't speeding even if I was drinking. Following the DUI laws didn't fit into my agenda, sorry. Put everything in and let the US see exactly what kind of an enema they were given. This death by a thousand needles, one at a time, just prolongs it.

    August 23, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. old guy in West Virginia

    Shutting down the government and refusing to pay its bills is an utterly irresponsible way to achieve a political end (here, defunding Obamacare) because everybody suffers. Some persons think that shutting down the government would be a good way for Republican legislators to demonstrate that they have gonads. Wrong. It would show that they don't have brains or worse, that they prefer gonads to brains. No, fools, this is not about having testosterone. It's about 1) having an alternative to offer (that'll be the day . . . whatever happened to the "replace" part of "repeal and replace:???) and 2) caring more about the good of the country than a narrow and short-term political advantage. The GOP needs more grown-ups.

    August 23, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Markus Luhn

    I should declare, as a large amount as I enjoyed reading what you had to declare, I couldnt avoid excluding mislay concern behind a while. Its as rider you had a fantastic grasp proceeding the subject affair, except you forgot to comprise your us your readers. Possibly you should think in relation to this from further added than one angle. Or possibly you shouldnt simplify accordingly to a great extent. Its outshine if you think on the subject of what others may have to utter instead of emphatically departing for a gut retort to the subject. Reflect about adjusting your peculiar belief administer and openhanded others who may interpret this the benefit of the doubt.

    August 23, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Chris

    the hippies were right

    @the truth you can't handle. Typical Fox sheep comment. Look at the bills the house has tried to pass the last few years. Equal pay for woman...voted no! Let immigrants innocent family members stay, voted no! Make it harder to vote for people in poor areas, voted yes! A womans right to have an abortion if she feels its best for her, voted NO. Take away voting rights for black communities, voted yes. Where are your facts? I see only opinions. Or are these bills all fiction? Who's the idiot now?

    Are you kidding me, talk about spewing talking points hypocrite!!! You can't even name the actual bills you mentioned, those are your parties INVALID talking points as to what those bills were!! Those bills were NOT what you listed there you just repeated the liberal talking points on why any bill conservative are in favor of is bad!!! Liberal hypocrisy at its finest!! Get a clue!! At least you gave me a good laugh....

    August 23, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Martin

    We should stop calling it Obamacare. It is the Affordable Health Care for America Act, NOT Obamacare.

    August 23, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. smiley jackson

    Yes. And privately the Clintons can't stand Obama. So I guess we're even.

    August 23, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Chris


    Still trying to deny the health care reform, despite the fact of the law having been passed and upheld by the Supreme Court, even after President Obama has compromised and allowed several sections to be delayed? Really? Even after the majority of this country polled has supported the need for reform? That's not just petty, its dangerous, especially when these irresponsible legislators are willing to bring us to the brink of a government shut down over it time and time again.
    Supported the need for reform but NOT this bill!!! Majority does NOT want this bill!!!

    August 23, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. dotheflippin'math

    Gridlocks and "sequester" are killing my SMB clients who work with government/military agencies, a good part of my business, which is also a SMB! I'm totally fed-up with the "tea-party" and their immature, unpatriotic, destructive tactics. The TP/GOP is responsible for many lost jobs and the slower than expected recovery. They're destroying the country, just for the sake of making the President look bad. They could care less for the American worker, and much less for human (esp. womens') rights. Bring back the middle of the road GOP'ers. At least they knew how to compromise. So telling was that TP rep who said he'd impeach Obama in a heartbeat...if only he had the grounds or evidence to do so. That's NOT PATRIOTISM!!

    August 23, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. ge

    if you shut down and get rid of everything the republicans want to get rid of.theirs no country left .america would be just another 3rd world country.ruled buy the rich and guns.

    August 23, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. DaveinIL

    Funny, I haven't heard of any Republicans visiting him at Martha's Vineyard or playing golf with him or showing up at his college campaign rallies, so when does he have these private conversations. I'll bet he hasn't actually talked to a Republican in months.

    August 23, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. free2beme59

    Why do politicians think we are stupid? This is all just lame games that waste our tax money, and nations time. Here is a suggestion, you elected politicians just do your jobs and dance for the camera on your dime and not ours. All of you are a waste in the pages of American History!

    August 23, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. chet

    Yah okay Mr President.. keep dreaming!

    August 23, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Al

    So let them kowtow to their false god, Rush, and lose even more seats in the House. The faster these miscreant losers fade into oblivion, the faster this country will be restored to its greatness.

    August 23, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC


    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.
    "Things that make you say, hmm." More proof that the right wing does not understand humor. Somebody, call a medic.

    August 23, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. Gene

    Spin, spin, spin. The only ones threatening to shut down the government are the president and his fellow Democrats. The Republicans will vote to fund the government except Health Care. What spin. Tell the people the truth Mr. President.

    August 23, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. WV Gleeman

    "Obama understands the GOP about as well as he understands the economy and international relations."
    This is true. Most likely the reason he was elected...TWICE.

    August 23, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    dont wonder why if you main goal was to keep him from be reelected why would you work with obama if its to help the country you will work it out to much partisan bs from both sides but the teaparty made it go into over drive besides shutting down the goverment wont defund it because its entitlement but these folks never let facts get in the way

    August 23, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. rplat

    The next targets of the Tea Party should be these whiny Republicans that are complaining to Obama.

    August 23, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Eli Cabelly

    They should be judged by how many laws they repeal?

    How many laws have they repealed, exactly?

    August 23, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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