Politics
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed  

Obama: Too many Americans blame both parties for shutdown

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama repeatedly complained on Thursday that the public is skeptical about his decision to shut down the government rather than accept the GOP’s Obamacare reform proposals.

“When this gets reported on everybody kind of thinks, well, you know, both sides are just squabbling; Democrats and Republicans, they’re always arguing, so neither side is behaving properly,” he maintained.

But “the only thing that is keeping the government shut down … is that [Republican] Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party,” Obama said during a speech given to a construction company.

“That’s what this whole thing is about,” he said, even though Republicans have passed three bills to fund the entire government, and a series of bills to fund individual agencies, such as medical research and park agencies.

Obama and the Democrats in the Senate have shot down all the funding bills, while demanding the GOP give up its popular reforms to the Obamacare program.

Those reforms include ending a job-killing tax on the high-tech companies that made medical devices, ending the special health care subsidies for White House and congressional staff and providing a one-year delay to the requirement that individuals buy insurance regardless of their youth, health, education and marriage plans, or other spending priorities.

However, polls shows little public reaction to Obama’s strategy of shutting down the government until the the public pressures GOP legislators to cave into his demands.

That’s a problem for Obama — his strategy was meant to spur fights within the GOP and weaken it prior to the 2014 mid-term elections.

In his speech, Obama again turned up the pressure on the American public. “In an economic shutdown, falling pensions and home values and rising interest rates on things like mortgages and student loans — all those things risk putting us back into a bad recession,” he said.

But if Boehner allows legislators to vote for or against a 2014 budget bill that doesn’t include the Obamacare changes, it would pass with Republican and Democratic votes, Obama insisted.

“That way, the American people will be clear about who is responsible for the shutdown. … It should be that simple,” he insisted.

Until the Republicans agree to his priorities, the government will remain shut down, barricade will be posted at national parks, federal loans will be bottled up and research will be delayed, Obama threatened.

“We’ve all seen the offices locked down, the monuments closed … benefits denied,” he said. “Veterans, seniors, women — they’re all worrying that the services they depend on will be disrupted,” he declared.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans … don’t know when they’re going to get their next paycheck, and that means stores and restaurants around here don’t know if they’ll have as many customers,” he said.

But if the GOP gives up its demand for Obamacare reforms, “national parks, monuments, offices would all reopen immediately … services would resume again,” Obama promised.

Obama tried to place all the blame for the impasse on the GOP.

“They won’t agree to end the shutdown until they get their way,” he declared.

Obama also complained about the public’s attitude toward the pending “debt ceiling fight,” where Republicans are expected to demand spending curbs in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit above $17 trillion.

The debt was at $11 trillion when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

“A lot of people end up thinking, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think we should raise our debt ceiling, because it sounds like we’re raising our debt,’” he complained.

“I want you to think about this,” he scolded Americans.  ”If you go to a restaurant, you order a meal, you eat it … then you look at the tab — it’s pretty expensive — and you decide I’m not going to pay the bill.  But you’re not saving money.  You’re not being frugal. You’re just a deadbeat, right?”

But Republicans are refusing to pay the bill unless they get something extra, Obama declared.

“Everybody knows — it’s written about in all the papers — that [Republicans'] basic theory is, ‘Okay, if the shutdown doesn’t work, then we are going to try to get some extra concessions out of the president,’” he said.

“I’m not just making this up.  I mean, it’s common knowledge.  Every reporter here knows it.”

Follow Neil on Twitter