Updated at 4:36 pm EDT
If there is a take-away for Republicans in the budget stalemate that has partially shuttered the government, President Barack Obama said at a news conference today: “They’re aware of the fact that I’m not budging when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States.”
* * *
This was House Speaker John Boehner’s reading:
“When it comes to the debt limit, I agree with the president — we should pay our bills,” Boehner said at his own much briefer press event afterward. Yet debt-limit increases often have accompanied negotiations over other policies, he said.
“The long and short of it is, there is going to be a negotiation here,” he said. “We can’t raise the debt ceiling without addressing what’s” driving the country to spend “beyond our means.”
“At times like this, the American people expect their leaders to sit down and have a conversation,” he said. “What the president said to us today is he’ll sit down and talk to us if there is unconditional surrender by the Republicans. That’s not how our government works.”
* * *
The American people are owed an apology, Obama also said today, for the budget stalemate that has stalled the government for the first time in 17 years.
“We gotta stop repeating this pattern,” Obama said. “I know the American people are tired of it. And it’s all the American people. I apologize that you have to go through this stuff every three months, it seems like. And Lord knows I’m tired of it.
The repeated showdowns in Congress must stop, he said. “At some point we’ve got to break these habits,” he said. “At some point there is give and take, and you don’t engage in ransom or hostage taking to get 100 percent of your way.”
He has his own faults, he said — ask his wife — yet refusal to talk about things is not one of them. He repeatedly offered today to negotiate with Republicans in Congress about anything, though not at the point of a rhetorical gun.
He is even willing to talk about his health-care program, which Republicans have tried to defund or delay in the budget showdown, he said, though “I won’t let them gut” a law providing health insurance to millions of Americans.
“I think Democrats in the Senate and the House are prepared to talk about anything. I’m prepared to talk about anything,” he said. “What is not fair and will not result in an actual deal is ransom-taking and hostage-taking.”
“It hurts our credibility around the world. It makes us look like we don’t have our act together.” —President Obama on the #shutdown
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 8, 2013
* * *
In the meantime, why not accept the bills the House has been passing partially funding the government? The White House has threatened to veto these.
“Of course I’m tempted, because you’d like to think that you could solve at least some of the problem if you can’t solve all of it,” he said. But what you’ve seen is, “wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure… They put a bill forward.” “If you do some sort of shotgun approach like that,” he said, national monuments will get reopened but small business loans won’t. “We don’t get to select what programs we implement or not.”
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 8, 2013
* * *
What is the U.S. government telling foreign creditors about the possibility of defaulting on debt as a result of the budget stalemate that has partially cl;osed the government?
“Obviously my message to the world is, the United States has always paid its bills and it will do so again,” Obama said today. Yet they look at Congress, he said, and see what’s going on there.
“We’re not going to calm creditors until they see Speaker Boehner call up a bill that reopens the government and authorizes the Treasury to pay its bills,” he said at a news conference.
* * *
While warning of the dire consequences of the U.S. defaulting on its debt, Obama steered clear today of saying how he would cope with it if Congress failed to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
Would bondholders be paid before Social Security recipients?
“I am going to continue to be very hopeful that Congress does not put us in that position,” Obama said at his news conference, likening it to a choice between paying for student or car loans — it all affects your credit, and drives your rates up.
“The same is true for the federal government,” he said. “We are exploring all contingencies…”
“No option is good in that scenario,” the president said. “There is no silver bullet. There is no magic wand that enables us to wish away the chaos… If we don’t pay our bills on time.”
* * *
The president’s absence from an Asian-Pacific Rim summit because of the budget stalemate at home may have hindered trade talks there, he said.
“We don’t know, but it didn’t help that I wasn’t there,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to do lasting damage… In the short-term, I would characterize it as missed opportunities.”
“It’s almost like me not showing up to my own party,” he said, but “as long as we get through this, they’ll understand it, and we’ll be able to get these deals done.”
* * *
The president maintained today that he is open to negotiations with Republicans in Congress, but not with a threat of defaulting on U.S. debt hanging in the balance. “I will talk about anything… We won’t agree on everything,” Obama said at the news conference. “I will not eliminate any topic of conversation,” he said. “The only thing I will say is, we are not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills.”
* * *
If the partial shutdown of the government looks bad, the president said, the threat of defaulting on U.S. debt is worse.
“As soon as Congress votes to reopen the government, it’s also got to meet our country’s commitments,” Obama said at his White House news conference that started at 2:14 and ended at 3:30 pm EDT. “The economic shutdown caused by America defaulting would be worse.”
“There are still some people out there who believe that… default would not be a big deal,” he said. “Raising the debt ceiling is a lousy name,” he said, because members don’t like to vote on it. “All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress already has spent.”
Our national debt has doubled since President Obama refused to raise the debt ceiling as a Senator –> pic.twitter.com/o01xa0Vhfb
— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) October 8, 2013
* * *
Obama, likening the budget standoff to a hostage situation, said Republicans “don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs.”
The president opened his news conference at the White House with a call to “lift these threats from our families and our businesses.”
“They have decided to run out the clock… thinking it would give them more leverage,” Obama said of the House’s Republicans. “That is not how our government is supposed to run.”
Obama said he will sit down and “talk with anybody about anything,” including improving his health-care program. “I’ve shown myself willing to go more than half-way in these conversations… But I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy.”
* * *
Obama apparently was counting on the momentum of public opinion moving his way as he prepared for the news conference, where he offered no new direction for Republicans running the House — other than to take a “clean” budget to a vote and stop playing politics with the nation’s debt ceiling. If the president was placing the blame on Republicans, polls this week have shown more Americans blaming Republicans for the budget stalemate that forced the government into a partial shutdown on Oct. 17, its first in 17 years.
* * *
The president’s job approval, which had dipped to 41 percent the first three days of the partial shutdown, is up five points now in the latest Gallup Poll daily track: 46 percent.
The results, an average of polling conducted Oct. 5-7, carry a 3 percentage point possible margin of error.
The president’s disapproval rate still stands at 48 percent, though that too is down from 52 percent last week at the start of the shutdown.
* * *
Obama called House Speaker John Boehner on the phone this morning, repeating what he told him when they met in the Oval Office last week, the White House said in a statement: The president is willing to negotiate with Republicans — after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed. Obama also repeated his willingness to negotiate over priorities he has identified including acts to “strengthen the Affordable Care Act” and continue to reduce the nation’s deficit.
While reiterating his call for a vote on a “clean” budget resolution without these contingencies attached to it, he downplayed talk of a measure allowing him to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, with a deadline looming Oct. 17. Only Congress has authority to raise the debt ceiling, the White House said, “and failure to do so would have grave consequences for middle class families and the American economy as a whole.”
* * *
As the president attempts to shift the burden to the Republican-run House, the speaker is pushing back.
* * *
Oh no, not the ponies, too. Misty’s herd at Chincoteague and Assateague will be running freer a little longer, thanks to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which manages a herd of about 130 ponies on a national wildlife refuge on Assateague Island, planned a roundup Friday and Saturday. But the refuge has been closed to the public since the shutdown began Oct. 1 for lack of a continuing federal budget resolution.
“Fall Round Up has been cancelled due to the childish, idiotic actions of our government,” reads a posting on the fire company’s Facebook page. Two hundred-sixty two people “like” that comment.
Due to a lapse of government funding, this account will not be active until further notice. — Chincoteague NWR (@ChincoteagueNWR) October 1, 2013
* * *
There are a lot of “non-starter”s in the budget stalemate that has partially shuttered the U.S. government for the first time in 17 years.
One of them was the Republican-run House’s insistence on tying restrictions on the president’s signature health-care program to a continuing budget resolution.
Another one may be the Senate’s idea of handing the authority to increase the nation’s debt ceiling – a late-October essential that has now become entwined in the budget debate — to President Barack Obama. But in the search of an end-game before the ostensible Oct. 17 deadline for a debt deal, the Senate’s strategy may provide Congress the “off-ramp” from this showdown it needs.
* * *
Not talking is not working, Republicans say. “The way to resolve this is to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences,” House Speaker John Boehner said today at a news event with fellow Republican leaders. “I want to have a conversation. I’m not drawing any lines in the sand… The central question is this, are we going to sit down and have a conversation or aren’t we?”
“We asked to sit down and talk, and they said no,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. “People expect to have negotiations when there are two differing sides… A position of not negotiating is not a sustainable option.”
“The president made a decision not to go to Asia, we stayed in Washington,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California — perfect for talks. Mr. President, he said, call us. The president’s refusal to negotiate over the terms of a budget resolution or debt ceiling increase is irresponsible, these leaders are saying.
`There are no boundaries here, there is nothing off the table, nothing on the table,” Boehner said — though the strings the House’s Republicans have attached to the president’s health-care program is off the White House’s table. The White House, though, may have increasing public sentiment on its side, with polls showing Republicans carrying a growing share of blame for the shutdown.
* * *
Meanwhile, the White House was attempting to keep pressure on the House to act.
When Boehner says there aren’t the votes in House for clean CR or clean debt ceiling, he means R votes. He won’t allow vote of full House.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) October 6, 2013
While the House speaker maintains that he cannot pass a “clean” budget without conditions, he insists it is the White House that is pushing the nation to the precipice of a default on its debt for refusing to negotiate over the terms of a budget and debt ceiling increase.
* * *
Here’s one independent vote count: Short.
WH still calling for House vote on a clean C.R. CBS News count shows 200 D’s & 14 R’s would vote in favor, a few short of passage. — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 8, 2013
Is support for that clean vote actually slipping?
* * *
Senate leaders say they have already moved toward the House, in adopting its lower level of spending in the clean budget the Senate passed.
Democrats negotiated with Republicans and struck a very difficult compromise for us. We voted; House has not. pic.twitter.com/LjNNLHdxeb
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) October 8, 2013
Yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not talking like a peacemaker:
By shutting down the government, Republicans are satisfying the Koch Brothers while millions of people are suffering.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) October 8, 2013
* * *
The Senate is preparing contingencies — the first question being whether it can convince a handful of Republicans to take the procedural step of allowing that presidential debt limit authority to reach a vote.
`Lawmakers began taking the first tentative steps toward a path to raising the government’s debt limit even as the rhetoric between Obama and Republican leaders grew more divisive,” as Bloomberg’s Richard Rubin and Kathleen Hunter report.
“Senate Democrats are planning a test vote before the end of this week on a measure that would grant Obama authority to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, probably for a year unless two-thirds of both chambers of Congress disapprove.”
This plan emerged as Gene Sperling, director of the president’s National Economic Council, opened another route toward at least a temporary resolution. He declined to rule out a short debt-limit extension while reiterating the administration’s preference for a longer-term resolution.
If all Senate Democrats along with six Republicans vote for giving Obama authority, they could send a debt-limit increase without policy conditions to the Republican-controlled House with only a few days to spare before U.S. borrowing authority lapses Oct. 17. That would put pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, who opposes a clean debt-limit bill.
At least four Republican senators wouldn’t rule out that option yesterday while a spokesman for Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, said in an e-mail that Kirk would vote for raising the debt ceiling without conditions, Rubin and Hunter report.
“We’ve got a situation where you have a calendar running, you have people who are frustrated and upset, and so let’s figure it out,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said in an interview at the Capitol. “We shouldn’t be dismissing anything.”
* * *
The markets remain convinced that the threat of breaching the $16.7-trillion debt ceiling is a manufactured crisis, that in the end Congress will do what it has always done, raise the ceiling. Though there are some who warn that this House is different.
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) October 8, 2013
— TIME.com (@TIME) October 8, 2013
* * *
Meanwhile, the partial shutdown required since the 2014 fiscal year started without a budget is taking its toll around the country.
It has closed the gates to Alex Thevenin’s place of business: the Grand Canyon.
“Her family-owned Arizona Raft Adventures in Flagstaff, Arizona, lost $80,000 last week in income from a group excursion down the Colorado River that didn’t happen,” Bloomberg’s Julie Bykowicz and Amanda J. Crawford report. “Thevenin’s and five other small, whitewater businesses will lose almost $1 million because of canceled trips in the final few weeks of the 2013 rafting season, said John Dillon, executive director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association in Flagstaff.”
“We had a great year until Sept. 30,” Dillon said.
The shuttering of large parts of the federal government on Oct. 1 amid a fight over funding President Barack Obama’s health-care law is hurting businesses big and small, our reporters note. Some, such as Thevenin’s, have already taken a hit to their bottom line. Others will suffer from slowed economic activity — stocks declined yesterday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index at almost a one-month low, and a Gallup poll released Oct. 4 showed consumer confidence had dropped to its lowest point since December 2011.
The shutdown cost $1.6 billion last week in lost economic output, according to IHS Inc. (IHS), a Lexington, Massachusetts-based global market-research firm. As the showdown enters its eighth day, the office closures are now draining an average of $160 million each workday from the $15.7 trillion economy.
“Two more days of the Washington-made calamity would put the shutdown’s financial harm on par with a natural disaster last month,” Bykowicz and Crawford report. “September’s heavy rains, flash floods and mudslides across 17 Colorado counties caused at least $2 billion in economic damages, according to Equecat Inc., an Oakland, California-based catastrophe-risk modeler. Based on the IHS estimate, the shutdown costs will surpass $2 billion on Oct. 9.”
Congress’s failure to approve a stopgap spending measure sidelined an estimated 800,000 federal employees last week. As many as 350,000 returned to work yesterday, with regular pay schedules as the Pentagon announced a reading of a law requiring pay for active-duty military employees as permitting employment for supporting civilians.
Yet the economic impact reaches beyond the federal workforce: The National Association of Government Contractors found in an Oct. 1 survey of 925 members that 29 percent planned to delay hiring because of the stalemate and 58 percent said it will have a negative effect on business.