President Barack Obama on Thursday blamed House Speaker John Boehner in unusually personal terms for keeping the government shut down and warned Americans that "you'd get fired" if you acted the way GOP lawmakers have acted in the standoff.
“If you're working here, and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, ‘You know what, I want to get something, but I don't know exactly what I'm going to get, but I'm just going to stop working till I get something, and I'm going to shut down the whole plant until I get something,’ you’d get fired,” Obama said at the M. Luis Construction Co. in Rockville, Md.
With much of the government shuttered for a third day, Obama ramped up pressure on Boehner to buck tea party “extremists” in his party and bring a clean, short-term spending bill to a vote.
“I want everybody to understand this,” the president said. “If the speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up-or-down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience, the shutdown would end today.”
“The only thing that is keeping the government shut down — the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans — the only thing that's preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party,” Obama said. That's all. That's what this whole thing is about.”
“My simple message today is: Call a vote,” Obama said.
Boehner has bowed to tea party-affiliated House Republicans who blocked a stopgap spending bill to keep all of government open for a matter of weeks in an attempt to convince the president to roll back the health care overhaul popularly known as “Obamacare.”
The Democratic-held Senate has defeated House-passed measures that aim to defund or otherwise damage the law as well as House-passed bills that fund individual departments — except for one that ensured troops get paid despite the shutdown.
“Republicans have sent bill after bill after bill to the Senate to keep the government open, and Democrats have rejected every one of them — refusing to even talk about our differences,” Boehner said in a statement. “It’s time for the president and Senate Democrats to come to the negotiating table and drop their my-way-or-the-highway approach that gave us this shutdown.”
Analysts in both parties privately say a “clean” spending bill — one without provisions targeting Obamacare — would likely garner enough votes from Democrats and Republicans to pass.
Boehner and other top congressional leaders of both parties were at the White House late Wednesday for a roughly 90-minute meeting that yielded no breakthrough.
Obama also ramped up his dire warnings about failure to raise the country's debt limit — a step that enables the government to borrow money to pay its existing bills. A first-ever American default on its obligations would likely send shock waves through the fragile global economy and, the administration has warned, even trigger a recession like the one that followed the 2008 meltdown.
"In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown, if we don't raise the debt ceiling, they don't go out on time," the president warned.
The Treasury Department estimates that the federal government will reach its borrowing limit by Oct. 17, and Republicans are determined to insist on budget reforms and possibly even more delays of the federal health care law.