President Barack Obama talks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House
(Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
(USA TODAY) With a partial government shutdown now in its eighth day, President Obama took questions from reporters at the White House this afternoon.
The president's appearance comes with no end in sight to the shutdown and the deadline looming for Congress to raise the debt ceiling or risk the first-ever U.S. government default.
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Earlier Tuesday, Obama spoke briefly with House Speaker John Boehner, but no apparent progress was made in their talk. Obama underscored that he's won't negotiate with Republicans until after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed, according to the White House.
Here's a rundown of what the president had to say.
3:20 p.m. The president has wrapped up his news conference after about an hour of back-and-forth with reporters. The president hammered home that he won't capitulate on his refusal to negotiate policy issues with Republicans on legislation to raise the debt ceiling or a short-term resolution to reopen the government. Unlike past fights in his presidency, where he's blinked, Obama said his position won't change this time.
"They know I'm not budging when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States," Obama says.
3:09 p.m. The president is asked about recent raids in Libya and Somalia that targeted two Al Qaeda-linked leaders and if such operations represent the United States being on perpetual war-footing.
"There is a difference between going after terrorists and those who are plotting directly to do damage to the United States and us being involved in wars," Obama said.
Obama says the American troops involved in the Libya and Somalia operations "were example of the extraordinarily skill and dedication and talent of our men and women in the armed services" and adds that those in Washington could learn from them.
The president also gives an indirect response to a question about whether the operations were legal.
He responds "we know that Mr. Al-Libi helped planned and helped to execute" operations that killed hundreds of people, including Americans.
3:03 p.m. The president is asked about GOP plan in the works that calls for "supercommittee," similar to one in 2011 that failed to come up with a deal on long-term deficit reduction. Obama expresses skepticism and says that "good-faith negotiations" are needed.
2:58 p.m. Obama calls on Congress to work with him, and that all sides should show some "civility, common sense, and give-and-take" in the debate. "Those aren't dirty words," Obama says. The president jokes that he flaws and the first lady would willingly point them. "But one of them is not an unwillingness to compromise," Obama said.
2:51 p.m. Obama is asked if the ongoing budget battle is benefiting China and doing lasting damage to his effort to make his so-called "Asia pivot."
Obama responds that he missed an important opportunity when he was forced to cancel participation in two economic summits this week in so he could deal with the government shutdown. "It didn't help that I wasn't there," Obama said. "I should have been there." But, Obama said, if Congress gets through this crisis, "I don't think it's going to do lasting damage" to his Asia policy.
"I am sure the Chinese don't mind that I'm not there right now," said Obama, who noted in the same breath that Secretary of State John Kerry is attending the Asia summit in his place and is doing a good job.
2:46 p.m. Obama questions Boehner's position that there aren't the votes to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government.
"Put in on the floor and see what happens," Obama said. At a minimum, a vote would put every member of Congress on record, the president said.
2:42 p.m. Obama said he has spoken to world leaders about the United States fiscal crisis. He says they have their own perspectives about budget battles in their countries, but the battle in the United States is making the world "nervous."
"You cannot pay some bills and not pay others and think somehow that is going to not affect your credit worthiness," Obama said.
2:39 p.m. The president laments the difficulties that the government shutdown is causing working families. Because of sequestration, thousands of low-income families have lost access to the Head Start program for their children, he notes. The government shutdown means several thousand more are going to be losing their slots.
2:32 p.m. Obama is asked how he would prioritize payments to creditors if default happens. "I am very hopeful that Congress does not put us in that position," he responds. Obama goes on to expand on the plethora of obligations the U.S. government has and that Republicans arguing that prioritizing interest payments could stave off default if the debt ceiling is not raised are being "irresponsible."
"There is no silver bullet, magic wand to wish away the consequences" of not paying our bills.
2:29 p.m. Obama takes his first question from reporters. He repeats that he is willing "to talk about anything." He suggest that he is open to negotiations even if just a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government is passed. "The only thing I will say is that we're not going to pay a ransom for America paying it's bill," Obama says.
2:26 p.m. The president repeats that he is willing to talk about any number of issues to strengthen the health care system, but only after clean budget is passed.
"I have shown myself willing to go more than halfway," Obama said, but he added, "We can't make extortion a routine part of our democracy," Obama said.
2:20 p.m. Obama turns to the debt ceiling, which U.S. government is set to reach on Oct. 17.
Obama says his pal and billionaire Warren Buffet has compared defaulting on the government debts to exploding a "nuclear bomb." He goes on to note that economists have described allowing a default to happen as "insane" and "catastrophic." In an economic shutdown caused by default, Obama says every American would see their retirement savings dip, mortgage rates rise and students would have a hard time finding affordable loans to help finance their education.
"We cant afford these manufactured crises every few months," Obama
2:19 p.m. Obama says Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House have showed willingness to talk to Republicans about issues that matter to them. "Let's end this shutdown right now. Let's put people back to work." He adds that the votes are there today among "reasonable" Democrats and Republican lawmakers to get it done.
2:15 p.m. President Obama starts off his news conference by making a statement, and notes his morning conversation with House Speaker John Boehner. "I am happy to talk with him about anything." But Obama repeats his stance that he won't negotiate until the threat of a government shutdown is removed by the GOP. "Think about it this way the American people do not get to demand a ransom for doing their job," Obama said. "In the same way, Congress doesn't get to demand a ransom for doing their job."
Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY