President Barack Obama seemed to open the door Tuesday to a short-term fix to the couple of budget battles running their way through Congress.
During a press conference with reporters, Obama signaled that he would be open to a deal that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling while allowing for negotiations between the two parties.
“If they want to do that, reopen the government, extend the debt ceiling,” Obama said. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place.
“Why is it that we’ve got hundreds and thousands of people who aren’t working right now in order for what you just described to occur? It doesn’t make any sense.”
But while he said that he was prepared to sit down and negotiate with Republicans on anything — as long as they agree to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling first, he insisted, “We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy.
“Democracy doesn’t function this way. And this is not just for me; it’s also for my successors in office. Whatever party they’re from, they shouldn’t have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We’ve got to put a stop to it.”
The federal government shutdown entered into its eighth full day on Tuesday, with no immediate end in sight. And Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 — nine days away — to avoid a potential default. Noon on Tuesday marked the halfway point — 8.5 days — between the start of the shutdown and the debt-ceiling deadline.
His press conference came after he called House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday morning, when he reiterated that he wouldn’t negotiate with the threats of a shutdown and economic calamity hanging overhead.
House Republicans are preparing to pass two bills that they hope will force Democrats into negotiations over the two budget battles as part of a “working group” that’s being compared to the 2011 “supercommittee” on deficit reduction.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats on Tuesday are introducing their own bill to permit a “clean” debt-ceiling hike.
Obama breathlessly tried to explain why there were no tricks, no workarounds, and no getting around Congress raising the debt ceiling. He said that there are no “silver bullets.” There’s no “magic wand.” And options frequently discussed as alternatives — such as the 14th Amendment and minting a high-value platinum coin — also wouldn’t work.
“I say, imagine, in your private life, if you decided that I’m not going to pay my mortgage for a month or two. First of all, you’re not saving money by not paying your mortgage. You’re just a deadbeat. And you can anticipate that will hurt your credit, which means that in addition to the debt collectors calling, you’re going to have trouble borrowing in the future,” Obama said.
“And if you are able to borrow in the future, you’re going to have to borrow at a higher rate. Well, what’s true for individuals is also true for nations.”
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