“We Can’t Threat an Economic Catastrophe,” Says Obama

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden listen as they are updated on the federal government shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling deadline, in the Oval Office, Oct. 1, 2013. From left, Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of OMB, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden listen as they are updated on the federal government shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling deadline, in the Oval Office, Oct. 1, 2013. From left, Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of OMB, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Right now Congress is an absolute failure. It’s very obvious that lawmakers on Capitol Hill would rather not pay the country’s debts and let our nation default on paying its bills rather than do what they are paid to do. President Obama has every right to call the House of Repulsive People (House of Representatives) out on this.

This stage play is old and tired. President Obama came out again and put the onus on Congress to get its act together and do the job they were sent to Washington to do. Speaking at FEMA headquarters in Washington,D.C.,  President Obama didn’t back down from his stance on speaking with Republicans under the cloud of threat. He called out Speaker John Boehner. The President also chided Congress for failing to do its job.

Here is an excerpt of that speech:

“Right now, Congress should do what’s in the best interest of the economy and the American people, and that’s move beyond this manufactured crisis and work together to focus on growth, jobs, and providing the vital services that Americans all across the country depend on, including the services that FEMA provides.

I heard a lot of talk over the weekend that the real problem is, is that the President will not negotiate.  Well, let me tell you something — I have said from the start of the year that I’m happy to talk to Republicans about anything related to the budget.  There’s not a subject that I am not willing to engage in, work on, negotiate, and come up with common-sense compromises on.

What I’ve said is that I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don’t get 100 percent of their way, they’re going to either shut down the government or they are going to default on America’s debt so that America for the first time in history does not pay its bills.  That is not something I will do.  We’re not going to establish that pattern.

We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of further harm to our economy and middle-class families.  We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of a prolonged shutdown until Republicans get 100 percent of what they want.  We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America’s obligations.

Now, the other thing I heard over the weekend was this notion that Congress doesn’t have the capacity to end this shutdown.  The truth of the matter is there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives right now to end this shutdown immediately, with no partisan strings attached.  The House should hold that vote today.  If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, then they should prove it.  Let the bill go to the floor and let’s see what happens.  Just vote.  Let every member of Congress vote their conscience and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down.

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3210, Pay Our Military Act, which provides continuing appropriations for pay and allowances for members of the Armed Forces during any period for which interim or full-year appropriations for FY 2014 are not in effect, in the Oval Office, Monday night, Sept. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3210, Pay Our Military Act, which provides continuing appropriations for pay and allowances for members of the Armed Forces during any period for which interim or full-year appropriations for FY 2014 are not in effect, in the Oval Office, Monday night, Sept. 30, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

My suspicion is — my very strong suspicion is that there are enough votes there.  And the reason that Speaker Boehner hasn’t called a vote on it is because he doesn’t, apparently, want to see the government shutdown end at the moment unless he’s able to extract concessions that don’t have anything to do with the budget.  Well, I think the American people simply want government to work.  And there’s no reason that there has to be a shutdown in order for the kinds of negotiations Speaker Boehner says he wants to proceed.  Hold a vote.  Call a vote right now, and let’s see what happens.

The second thing Congress needs to do is to raise the debt ceiling next week so the Treasury can pay the bills that Congress has already spent.  That’s what most Americans do if they buy something — if they buy a car or if they buy a house, if they put something on a credit card, they understand they’ve got to pay the bills.

This is something routine.  It’s been done more than 40 times since Ronald Reagan was President.  It has never before been used in the kind of ways that the Republicans are talking about using it right now.  We can’t threat an economic catastrophe in the midst of budget negotiations.

So authorize the Treasury to pay America’s bill.  Pass a budget, end the government shutdown, pay our bills, and prevent an economic shutdown.

And as soon as that happens, I am eager and ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans on a whole range of issues:  How do we create more jobs?  How do we grow the economy?  How do we boost manufacturing?  How do we make sure our kids are getting a first-class education?  All those things will be on the table.  I’m happy to talk about health care; happy to talk about energy policy; how do we deal with our long-term fiscal situation.

All those things I’ve been eager and anxious to talk to Republicans about for the last seven months, and I’ve put out a budget that specifically lays out my vision for how we’re going to grow this economy.  And I expect the Republicans should do the same, and we can negotiate it.  But we shouldn’t hurt a whole bunch of people in order for one side to think that they’re going to have a little more leverage in those negotiations.”

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