Obama: I use ‘calm’ rhetoric, unlike ‘hostage takers’

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama told NBC News today that he’s tried to keep his rhetoric calm during the budget impasse over Obamacare, but then urged Wall Street to worry over the partial shutdown of some government spending.

“During the course of my presidency I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party and have purposely kept my rhetoric down,” insisted the president, who is meeting Wednesday evening with congressional leaders for the first time since the shutdown struggle started.

Obama, however, immediately contradicted his claim by suggesting that the GOP’s popular opposition to his health-care takeover — which passed on a party line vote during a heated fight after midnight on a weekend in 2010 — threatens Wall Street’s financial leaders.

“I think they should be concerned,” he said.

“I had a chance to speak to some of the financial industry who came down for their typical trip [to the White House] and I told them it is not unusual for Democrats and Republicans to disagree… but when you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble, and if they’re wiling to do it now, they’ll [also] be willing to do it later,” he told NBC.

“I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy — sometimes too calm,” Obama said.

In recent weeks, however, Obama and his aides and Democratic allies have accused the Republican legislators of being anarchists, suicide-bombers, hostage-takers, arsonists, political terrorists, fanatics, blackmailers, and ideological crusaders.

“What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s top media adviser, said in a CNN interview this week.

Republicans “have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” Obama told reporters Tuesday.

The crisis will end “when Republicans realize they don’t get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands,” Obama told the reporters gathered in the White House’s briefing room.

Unless the White House agrees to “gut” health care, Obama said in his weekly address Saturday, Republicans will “push the button, throwing America into default for the first time in history and risk throwing us back into recession.”

Opponents of his Obamacare network “have made such a big political issue out of this, trying to scare everybody with lies about ‘death panels’ and ‘killing granny,’ he said in a speech last week to cheering supporters in Maryland.

Republicans favor “shutting down the government just because you don’t like a law… no Congress before this one has ever – ever — in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default… [and they are trying] to blackmail a President,” Obama told his acolytes. “We’re not going to submit to this kind of total irresponsibility,” he declared, before ending his speech, “God bless the United States of America.”