Transcript: Obama speaks on potential government shutdown
September 30th, 2013
05:55 PM ET
12 months ago

Transcript: Obama speaks on potential government shutdown

(CNN) – Speaking from the White House, President Barack Obama on Monday warned that a federal shutdown would throw a wrench into the gears of the economy and would represent the "height of irresponsibility."

Read his full remarks below.

Good afternoon, everybody.

Of all the responsibilities that Constitution endows to Congress, two should be fairly simple: pass a budget and pay America's bills. But if the United States Congress does not fulfill its responsibility to pass a budget today, much of the United States government will be forced to shut down tomorrow. I want to be very clear about what that shutdown would mean, what will remain open and what will not.

With regard to operations that will continue, if you're on Social Security, you will keep receiving your checks. If you're on Medicare, your doctor will still see you.

Everyone's mail will still be delivered, and government operations related to national security or public safety will go on.

Our troops will continue to serve with skill, honor and courage. Air traffic controllers, prison guards, those who are with border patrol, will remain on their posts, but their paychecks will be delayed until the government reopens. NASA will shut down almost entirely, but mission control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the space station.

I also want to be very clear about what would change. Office buildings would close, paychecks will be delayed, vital services that seniors and veterans, women and children, businesses and our economy depend on would be hamstrung.

Business owners would see delays in raising capital, seeking infrastructure permits or rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Veterans who have sacrificed for their country will find their support centers unstaffed. Tourists will find every one of America's national parks and monuments from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty immediately closed. And of course, the communities and small businesses that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.

And in keeping with the broad ramifications of a shutdown, I think it's important that everybody understand the federal government is America's largest employer. More than two million civilian workers and 1.4 million active duty military serve in all 50 states and all around the world.

In the event of a government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay. And several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.

What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay - their mortgages, their tuition payments, their car notes.

These Americans are our neighbors. Their kids go to our schools. They worship where we do. They serve their country with pride. They are the customers of every business in this country. And they would be hurt gravely. And, as a consequence, all of us will be hurt gravely, should Congress choose to shut the people's government down.

So a shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away. Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy significantly. This one will too.

It will throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.

Five years ago right now, our economy was in meltdown. Today, our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs over the past three and a half years.

The housing market is healing. And our deficits are falling fast.

The idea of putting the American people's hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn't have to happen.

Let me repeat this: It does not have to happen.

All of this is entirely preventable if the House chooses to do what the Senate has already done. And that's the simple act of funding our government without making extraneous and controversial demands in the process, the same way other Congresses have for more than 200 years.

Unfortunately, right now House Republicans continue to tie funding of the government to ideological demands like limiting a woman's access to contraception or delaying the Affordable Care Act, all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party.

Let me be clear about this. An important part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect tomorrow no matter what Congress decides to do today. The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down. This is a law that passed both Houses of Congress, a law that bears my signature, a law that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional, a law that voters chose not to repeal last November, a law that is already providing benefits to millions of Americans in the form of young people staying on their parents' plan until they're 26, seniors getting cheaper prescription drugs, making sure that insurance companies aren't imposing lifetime limits when you already have health insurance, providing rebates for consumers when insurance companies are spending too much money on overhead instead of health care.

Those things are already happening. Starting tomorrow, tens of millions of Americans will be able to visit healthcare.gov to shop for affordable healthcare coverage. So Americans who've lived for years, in some cases, with the fear that one illness could send them into bankruptcy, American's who've been priced out of the market just because they've been sick once, they'll finally be able to afford coverage, quality coverage, many of them for the first time in their lives.

Some of them may be sick as we speak. And this is their best opportunity to get some security and some relief. Tens of thousands of Americans die every single year, because they don't have access to affordable health care.

Despite this, Republicans have said that if we lock these Americans out of affordable healthcare for one more year, if we sacrifice the health care of millions of Americans, then they'll fund the government for a couple of more months.

Does anybody truly believe that we won't have this fight again in a couple more months?

Even at Christmas?

So here's the bottom line. I'm always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better. I'm always willing to work with anyone to grow our economy faster, or to create new jobs faster, to get our fiscal house in order for the long run.

I've demonstrated this time and time again, oftentimes to the consternation of my own party.

But one faction, of one party, in one House of Congress, in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election. Keeping the people's government open is not a concession to me. Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you give to the other side.

It's our basic responsibility.

It's something that we're doing for our military and our businesses and our economy and all the hard-working people out there, the person working for the Agricultural Department out in some rural community who's out there helping some farmers make sure that they're making some modest profit for all the hard work they're putting in.

The person working for HUD who's helping somebody buy a house for the first time. There's somebody in a DEO (ph) office, who's counseling one of our vets who's got PTSD.

That's who we're here to serve. That's why we're supposed to be carrying out these responsibilities. That's why we should be avoiding these kinds of constant brinksmanship. It's something that we do in the ordinary process of this extraordinary system of government that we have.

You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, where just because there's a law there that you don't like.

The American people sent us here to govern. They sent us here to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make their lives a little bit better - to create new jobs, to restore economic security, to repair the prospects of upward mobility. That's what they expect.

And they understand that there are differences between the parties. And we're going to be having some tough fights around those differences. And I respect the fact that the other parties are not supposed to agree with me 100 percent of the time, just like I don't agree with them.

But they do also expect that you don't bring the entire government to a halt or the entire economy to a halt just because of those differences.

That's what they deserve. They've worked too hard for too long to recover from previous crises just to have folks here in Washington manufacture yet another one that they have to dig themselves out of.

So Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time, and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

And time is running out. My hope and expectation is that in the 11th hour once again that Congress will choose to do the right thing and that the House of Representatives in particular will choose the right thing.

Thank you very much.


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Stand firm Mr. President. We have your back!

    September 30, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. Sam I Am

    I thought Obama was going to break down and cry. I don't think this guy is capable of doing anything tough. Yes, I do believe he is afraid of Michelle.

    September 30, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. just saying

    after 5 years in office, obama has not gotten the memo that he was not elected dictator. his job is to lead people to a compromise solution that they all have a stake in. he failed, actually refused, to do that when they passed obamacare on a strict party vote. now he fails to lead yet again. obama is just a failed leader and we are paying the price for having a partisan leftist political hack in the white house instead of a true leader.

    September 30, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. President Messiah Darky

    Why won't all you people just give me everything I want?!! Why are you making this so difficult?!! JUST DO WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO!!!

    September 30, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Sam – Cry, ever watch Boehner? Now there is a baby in depends.

    September 30, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    @samiam and just saying, your constant stupidity and parroting of fat radio boy and faux news is getting old.
    sending team 6 to kill bin laden took the guts that your war criminal #43 never had and his jest about Michelle and that he's afraid of her is joke (funnier than your car of clowns).
    As far as leader. The Canadian teatard is the one running the show because the weeper of the house (note to Sam) has no backbone and as far as dictators the teatards are the ones telling American citizens how to live their lives.

    September 30, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. anotherGDlefty

    Fight the fight Mr. Obama.
    You were elected not selected so the whiners can just sit down and let the adults drive.
    Keep talking teabirchers and please oh please keep following the likes of Raphael and Sarah while they destroy the once great GOP.

    September 30, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. What a Shame

    So the senate makes the move to shut down the government and Obama comes out to blame the House. Maybe he should try doing his job and work with congress instead of playing golf. What a pathetic failure of leadership. Welcome to socialism!

    September 30, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    Stand firm–stick to your guns. You are the man to these GOP thugs of this nation. In 2014 these idiots are OUT!

    September 30, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. Anthony in California

    @just saying

    Remember the first day the President was in office and Republicans vowed to make him a "1 term President"?
    or the part where they vowed to vote "NO" on every piece of legislature he proposed?
    or the part where they threatened to shut down the government because they didnt like legally passed, supreme court upheld Affordable Health Care Law?

    Yeah.. "just saying"... no matter how many times you "just say anything", it will not make it true, it will not make the President a failure, it will not make the Republicans look anything more than anti-American obstructionists.

    September 30, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. Stuffit

    My health care premiums fo 2014 will b rsing 177 percent so who is this corrupt idiot trying to fool. Th moly benrficiaries of this insane. Law are the non working welfare frauds and dope addict that stole the election fo him in the first place.

    September 30, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "after 5 years in office, obama has not gotten the memo that he was not elected dictator."

    That's because "you're not a dictator" is not spelled "we're going to do everything we can to obstruct and destroy you unless you simply do as we say."

    September 30, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. freedom

    TOTAL IRONY! Government will shut down because the democrats in Congress don't want to be under the same law as the citizens they serve – and they were the ones who voted this into law in the first place – it's called Obamacare!! Let's see Pelosi, Reid, Obama, the entire administration, and the Chief Justices be under the same law as the American citizens!

    September 30, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Jim O

    You people would not know socialism if it hit you in the face. We have many socialists programs in this country that work well.. Social Security, Medicare, public schools, public libnrarys, public transportation, and yes, the US military. Oh, and given the size of the subsidies and bailouts, big tobacco, big farming, big oil and wall street.

    September 30, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Ron

    Lucky for us we have an expert on irresponsibility.

    September 30, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  16. Evergreen

    "You don't get to extort a ransom for doing your job..." Love it.

    September 30, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. Clint

    He thinks what he decides is how it should be. People need to get together and stop the government we are only reason they were ever there and seems we forgot we can also stop them. They have made it were everyone fears government so people won't stand up. If people don't start standing together and stopping them then we are very close to not having any freedoms or rights at all.

    September 30, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. ED1

    The dictator has spoken and we should role over and do what he says again.

    We are in the mess because he along with the democrats forced Obamacare down our throats when the majority of tax payers didn't want it and after people started to read the bill that was passed say wait just a damn minute this isn't what we need.

    We need a do over and get it right the first time and not add to our debt.

    I haven't had a Doctor tell me yet they were for just more red tape that's not needed.

    September 30, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  19. ED1

    The only people that have Obama's back are the people who have to get their money from the working tax payers.

    More Big Government we don't need and they can't even balance a budget all the Democrats want are more people to depend on the Government to pay them for having babies and not have to work.

    September 30, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. labman57

    The House Republican plan to shut down the federal government - a self-serving tactic desperately lacking a rational justification.

    September 30, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  21. govspy

    @ED1
    "The only people that have Obama's back are the people who have to get their money from the working tax payers."

    Yes, like military and law enforcement who protect ignorant people who voted against their own interests. We'll be at work, possibly without pay while others can merely comment on the situation, gleefully ignorant of the suffering of public servants risking their lives to feed their families. I hope you don't also claim to be Christian, while you play the fiddle as Rome burns.

    September 30, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  22. Chris Wiegard

    i am very tired of seeing the word Dictator applied to Obama. he was elected, twice, winning both the popular vote and the electoral college both times. At the end of his second term, I guarantee he will leave the white house on time. Call him dictator if you want. it will just make me ignore the rest of what you say, because it is simply inaccurate. and a bit childish.

    September 30, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  23. Steve

    I hope every person in the US remembers this night come 2014. All citizens should make it a point to vote out every member of the GOP who has been an obstructionist. Differing views are fine. Trying to cripple the government because the majority of Americans disagree with you is not.

    September 30, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |