August 23rd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. voice of reason

    It seems like Mr. Obama is avoiding the real issues when he blames his problems on some hidden fear of a radio personality and "the tea party." He also seems out of touch when he asks why we should even debate going deeper into debt. Does he think the issue is consequences of more debt, or just that people disagree with him. With all due respect, this is not leadership.

    August 23, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. WV Gleeman

    When the Green party was responsible for losing the Democrats elections did they ignore that fact as vehemently as the TeaParty Republicans do? I was too young to remember if they did and was just curious.

    August 23, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. chaz

    Wow Mr President do you ever accept responsibility for anything? I would say you've pretty much gotten everything you've wanted which is why we haven't recovered yet and won't recover for a long time.

    I had to laugh when I read Darrell's comment about McCain and Lindsay too funny!

    August 23, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. AJ

    Seriously? This is news?

    August 23, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. John P. Tarver

    Republicans who agree with Obama deserve to lose their seats in the House.

    August 23, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Tony

    Wow.....the irony is that Obama is trying to denigrate Rush, but in reality gave him credibility. In essence he said Rush is more powerful than me to move congress. This is sad for every one.

    August 23, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. tom

    Rush is just a talk show host who is easy for someone like the current prez to use as a prop to beat up on. The Tea Party is a movement that has some of the same heroic ideals that were present at the birth of our nation. The fact that our finger-pointer-in-chief can't effectively lead is really his own fault. True leaders manage to unite factions in spite of serious differences. Bill Clinton did it. This current guy just doesn't have the right stuff.

    August 23, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Jeff579

    "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.

    And we are supposed to believe this because Obama says so? Right, and the "Affordable Care Act" is really affordable.

    August 23, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. KeninTexas

    The anchors at CNN should be wearing jerseys when they interview Obama. After all, they only throw those softball pitches. I guess they forgot how to do real news.

    August 23, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. POTUS

    Rush Limbaugh's gonna git ya! BOOGA, BOOGA, BOOGA!

    August 23, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. TransWarpDrive

    Is Rush Limbaugh an elected official? NO! He's a former sports commentator and used car salesman. Now he has his own radio show, where he routinely tells lies and distorts the truth in order to: A) boost his ratings to earn advertising dollars; and B) feed his ego by getting listeners to believe his half-baked opinions. The GOP should show some moral courage by ignoring this jerk, and working with the president and the Democrats to run this country in a way that benefits ALL Americans, regardless of party affiliation.

    August 23, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. Dave in Arizona

    The idea of defunding Obamacare is such a sick joke. Defunding it won't remove it from the law; it won't remove our legal responsibility to buy insurance or pay penalties. All of the "taxes" are still there. The only difference will be that we can knowingly file our tax forms incorrectly and the IRS won't be funded sufficiently to enforce the new laws.

    Yep. That's right. The only way "defunding" Obamacare will "save America" is if Americans knowingly break the law. Sure, you might not be penalized, but you're still breaking the law.

    August 23, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Bubba

    The GOP talks tough, but cannot stand up to the Extreme elements within their own ranks. A slightly moderate Republican could have beaten Obama in 2008, but none could survive the NeoCons. The GOP then begins to loose ground to the Tea Party, which has great local appeal, but no chance in National elections.
    To make matters worse, the cowardly GOP then moves farther Right, where we are today. Obama could win a third term if it was allowed, yet the GOP continues to double down on good values with little national appeal. The Taliban uses the same political process, which is not going to work in America.

    August 23, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. denman838

    Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio remind me of the defining statement about the insanity of the war in Vietnam. standing on the edge of the smoldering ruins of a Vietnamese village, a US spokesman uttered the immortal words "In order to save the village, we had to burn it to the ground."

    August 23, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. YoungNiceGuy

    Republicans being useless? What a surprise.-Sarcasm

    August 23, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. barryinlasvegas

    Another diversion that CNN dutifully reported. Why doesn't CNN report on his dismal economy, high unemployment and failed foreign policy. The middle east is on fire and of course, Obama has now used this as an excuse to recall the investigative team he sent to Benghazi. Obama should admit he can't handle the job, except the campaigning and vacationing part, and resign. .

    August 23, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. American Citizen

    Is it 2016 yet? Like President Carter, Obama just doesn't have anything to say anymore thats worth listening to. But I hope he keeps yacking as it will help the GOP win the Senate in 2014.

    August 23, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Rick H.

    No.....Obama is afraid of Rush.....unless Rush is his bestest friend. He sure mentions him enough. Tell you what Obama....talk to Harry Reid about blocking GOP sponsored house bills from the senate floor. Then I will believe that you are somewhat of a non partisan. Unitl then your a hack.

    August 23, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. dorsh44

    If these guys are worried about losing to a tea party guy/gal if they vote to increase the debt, doesn't that say something about the will of the people they are supposed to be representing? Does what "the people" want matter to anyone other than the tea party?

    August 23, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Mark

    They're not affraid of Rush. That's a sorry ploy to get them ruffled. Rush is a free spoken talk show host just like Ed Schultz. They say what they want and offend who they want. Equal opportunity on both sides of the spectrum.

    August 23, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Mark

    This President is the best political manipulator I've ever seen. Disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

    It's funny, he always attached the Republicans to the Limbaughs and Hannity's of the world and you people believe it. To be fair, if I was to use his strategy then I can say the Democrats in Congress are afraid upsetting Ed Schulz, or maybe Al Sharpton, or maybe the Morning Joe. See how ridiculous it sounds when the same narrative is used against you.

    August 23, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. steve rosenberger

    Nonsence. No need to fear a shutdown of the govt shutdown. there have been many shutdowns of the govt since 1970 and everyone is still here

    August 23, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Nelson

    We have fallen to blaming a radio talk-show host for gridlock. Pathetic.

    August 23, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Jim

    He's GOT to be kidding! Geez, he's just too much. Man, this guy will do ANYTHING to hang onto what he's done or wants to do. Rush IS a windbag, but as little as I know about the Tea Party, their basic reasons for being seem awful smart to me. The GOP isn't "afraid" of someone like Rush Limbaugh and, even though I'm NOT a Republican (I'm ashamed to say I voted for Carter twice) they're more in the real world of the 21st century than the vast, vast majority of Democrats.

    August 23, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Chaos

    " I would say you've pretty much gotten everything you've wanted"

    You say it but it isn't accurate which make your post meaningless.

    August 23, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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