President Barack Obama placed blame for a government shutdown squarely with the GOP on Tuesday, labeling the cessation in government business a “Republican shutdown” that threatens to damage the economy.
“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen. But I want every American to understand why it did happen,” Obama said during remarks in the Rose Garden. “They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.”
President Obama would veto any piecemeal bill funding only parts of the federal government and not resolving the whole government shutdown, the White House said Tuesday.
The president and the Senate have been clear that they won’t accept this kind of game-playing, and if these bills were to come to the president’s desk he would veto them, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement, responding to the plans under consideration by House Republicans.
“These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government,” she said. “If House Republicans are legitimately concerned about the impacts of a shutdown — which extend across government from our small businesses to women, children and seniors — they should do their job and pass a clean CR to reopen the government.”
The president isn’t telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown. The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks. And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans.
This is part of a larger pattern: the president’s scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding, or the debt limit.
As of this morning, Senate Democrats, acting in concert with President Obama, have rejected four different proposals from the House of Representatives to keep the government running and fund basic services.
Their kamikaze campaign to defund President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, ridiculously rests on the idea that they are reflecting “the will of the American people.” It’s true that Obamacare is not the most popular government program in history. But hardly anyone outside this pestiferous little posse supports defunding the law, especially at the cost of a government shutdown…
On what planet is 19 percent of the population the expression of the will of the American people? The GOP has routinely conflated disapproval of or confusion about Obamacare with a desire to defund the law. Now they seem to believe that the American people want to defund the health-care law so much that they are willing to drive the American economy off a cliff. It’s beyond delusional. This is government of, for, and by the fringe.
Could people in Congress possibly behave another way when they disagree with the president on an important policy matter? Yes, it turns out they could. In April 2007, when 76 percent of Americans said the Iraq War was going badly, a CBS/New York Times poll found that 36 percent of all adults wanted Democrats to withhold funding for the Iraq War if no timetable for withdrawal was set. Did the Democrats take the U.S. government to the brink of disaster to get this accomplished? No, they didn’t. They included a timetable in an Iraq War spending bill. President Bush vetoed it, and Democrats relented in the face of outrage from their liberal flank. It’s worth noting that the Iraq War was a demonstrable mistake involving life and death. Obamacare is essentially government-run health insurance that hasn’t even fully launched. The hysteria and hostage taking of Wacko Bird Inc. is not reasonably matched to the current situation.
When Obama spends a week making three partisan speeches attacking Republicans and then calls House Speaker John Boehner to tell him, “I will not negotiate,” it is time to stand firm.
It is a sad commentary on Obama’s attitude toward the elected majority of the House of Representatives that he could have a more pleasant conversation with the head of the Iranian dictatorship than with the elected leader of the U.S. House.
The left has sold itself on a false history of the 2012 election. According to the left, Obama won the election and therefore we should do whatever he wants.
This ignores that there was also an election for the “People’s House” in 435 congressional districts, and the Republicans won. It also ignores the 63 million Americans who voted against his re-election and his agenda. Winning 52% does not mean he gets 100% of what he wants.
Tea-party populism, however, moved quickly beyond this point. We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican “establishment”; this revolt is against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality. Conservatives are excommunicated not for holding the wrong convictions but for rational calculations in service of those convictions…
And these ideas do have some resonance among conservative activists who are convinced that Republicans lost recent presidential elections because their candidates lacked combativeness. At least, the argument goes, Ted Cruz has some backbone. It is the political expression of pent-up anger. “If we’re going to fight,” says Michele Bachmann, “we need to fight now.” Few believe any longer that Republicans will be able to defund Obamacare in this session of Congress; it is the fight that counts. This is a word that crops up frequently in tea-party discourse. Not winning. Not strategy. Not consequences. The fight.
Now that the shutdown has happened, Obama has a fresh opportunity — indeed a fresh responsibility — to seize the mantle of leadership and get us out of this mess. Instead of just blaming the Republicans, he should call in the leaders of both parties and in Lyndon Johnson fashion, keep ’em talking till they get a deal.
With the shutdown underway, the president has new leverage to say, “Look, we are here to negotiate a settlement so that we can reopen the government. We are not here to negotiate over a possible default; I have said all along that I won’t do that. But those of you who have been listening closely know that I have also been saying that I am open to conversations about settling our policy differences so that we can keep the government running.
“Tax reform, entitlement reform and even some tweaking of the Affordable Care Act are on the table now. I have only two conditions: I will not accept a gutting of Obamacare — we settled that at the ballot box in 2012 — and any settlement here must include a pledge not to let the country go into default. So, let’s get started.”
Obamacare also helped spark a Republican resurgence in the 2010 midterms and the Democrats lost the House. They didn’t lose in spite of your programs, Mr. President. They lost because of your first two years in office, when you signed on to Bush’s TARP plan, expanded unpopular military actions, pushed a stimulus that failed by your own predicted measures of success, and forced through a health-care plan that people still don’t like.
Then you compounded legislative issues by failing to kick the asses of sorry little functionaries like John Boehner and Harry Reid to pass budgets on a regular basis. At this point, you’re one for five, batting .200 on budgets. If you had forced the budget process, most Americans would never have learned of the debt limit, whose increase you used to rail against so eloquently. It’s hard, after all, for Congress not to pass increases to pay for spending it budgeted through the normal budget process.
Like a head-in-the-clouds grad-school layabout, you yourself were late on just about everything too, such as Obamacare deadlines and this year’s budget plan. Think about it: You became unpopular enough that Americans were willing to vote back into partial power the same team that gave us the goddamn Bush years.