Former President Bill Clinton urged Obama to stand up to Republicans threatening a government shutdown unless changes are made to the Affordable Care Act,
telling ABC’sGeorge Stephanopoulos this may be the time to call their bluff.
“They [the GOP] haven’t asked for negotiations,” Clinton told Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “They said, ‘Yeah, we negotiate with everybody and we don’t like where it came out. We want our way. It’s our way or the highway. And if you don’t do it, we’ll shut the government down.'”
“I think there are times when you have to call people’s bluff,” he added.
Having served as president for eight years, Clinton was in office during the last government shutdown in 1996. Clinton did negotiate over the debt limit in that year, as Stephanopoulos pointed out.
“Well, but the negotiations we had were extremely minor and keep in mind. There was two different things,” Clinton responded. “Number one is the economy was growing and the deficit was going down. Before we ever signed the balanced budget amendment, 90% of the deficit was gone, because of economic growth and what the Congress voted for in our economic plan in ’93. So it was — we didn’t give away the store and they didn’t ask us to give away the store.”
Instead of offering negotiation this time around, Clinton blasted Republicans as trying to “dictate” over others.
“We don’t want to negotiate with the Senate. We acknowledge that the Senate Democrats and Republicans have negotiated, but they’re not right-wing enough for us,” Clinton said of Tea Party Republicans. “In other words, we want to dictate over the Senate, over the House Democrats, over the speaker of the house of our own party and over the president, we insist on dictating the course of — [the country].”
“I’ve never seen a time — can you remember a time in your lifetime when a major political party was just sitting around, begging for America to fail?” Clinton asked.
As Republicans continue to add amendments that chip away at Obamacare onto a continuing resolution that would fund the government, congress is headed for a night of drama on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will likely strip out those amendments before sending it back to the GOP-controlled House.
At that point, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will have to decide to pass the “clean” bill with Democratic votes, or likely take the government into a partial shutdown.
Here’s video of the interview:
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