Amid hunt for Navy Yard shooters, Obama attacks Republicans on budget

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Obama delivered only brief condolences for the victims of the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Monday morning, before quickly pivoting to a scheduled attack on Republicans.

The pending budget crisis this fall is a pointless battle between GOP extremists and reasonable people, Obama declared today from the White House.

“I can’t remember a time when one faction of one party promises chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants. … that’s what happening right now,” he insisted.

The GOP’s small-government legislators are “a crew” who wish to “sabotage” Obamacare and show “an unwillingness to compromise,” he announced.

“Are some of these folks so beholden to some extremists in their party that they’re willing to tank the entire economy … [and] to hurt people just to score political points?” he asked.

Obama’s partisan language reflects a willingness — or even a desire — for a dramatic political clash this fall with the GOP that would temporarily shut down the government.

The president is already fundraising for the 2014 mid-term elections, when he will try to regain a Democratic majority in the House.

Obama’s uncompromising remarks were accompanied by a report touting the administration’s efforts to recover from the 2008 Wall Street crash. The report acknowledged that Americans have recovered less than half of the wealth lost in the real-estate bubble and subsequent crash.

GOP legislators and activists have long complained about the budget-crisis narrative, which they say obscures the harm caused by many government programs, and the small-scale changes being sought in the government’s huge annual budget, which reached $3.5 trillion in 2012.

That’s down slightly from 2011 spending of $3.6 trillion.

But the GOP has failed to shift this establishment narrative, partly because GOP’s leadership is uncharismatic, dispersed and split, while Obama is charismatic, owns the White House and is backed up by a disciplined Democratic Party and most of the established media.

This time around, the House’s GOP leadership is trying to rally their diverse caucus around a two-sided legislative proposal.

That incomplete proposal would demonstrate the GOP’s desire to replace the Obamacare law, and also force Democratic legislators into the politically dangerous task of defending the unpopular law and its various loopholes for congressional staffers, big companies and unions.

However, Obama offered no hint of concessions.

“The first order of business is to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester… [and] funds the investments in basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow” he said.

The fix for the nation’s economy, he said, includes a tax increase. “It is the only way to do it,” he said.

The president did offer a few backhanded tokens of respect for Republicans worried about the nation’s high unemployment and record national debt that has grow more than $6 trillion under his tenure.

“It is time for responsible Republicans who share these goals… [and who] genuinely want to see the economy grow,” he said.

Obama also used the event to urge House approval of the Senate’s ambitious immigration rewrite plan.

“Once we’re done with the budget… let’s focus on the other things [including] finishing the job of immigration reform,” he said.

The rewrite would legalize around 33 million immigrants over the next 10 years, according to various estimates. That annual inflow is triple the current immigration rate, and it would add roughly one immigrant into the job market for every two Americans who turn 18.

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