“We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday, the eighth day of a partial government shutdown spurred by congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to pass a funding measure without administration concessions on the Affordable Care Act.
The president told reporters at the White House that he discussed the situation earlier Tuesday with House Speaker John Boehner and that he assured the GOP leader he was “happy to talk with him and other Republicans about anything.”
“But I also told him that having such a conversation, talks, negotiations shouldn’t require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people,” Obama added.
Even as the shutdown stalemate drags on, concern is shifting to the prospect of a U.S. default if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.
The president slammed the Republican strategy, comparing it to daily life.
“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,” Obama said.
The most radical Republican sector says there’s nothing to fear in the suspension of payments, because the Treasury can simply pay holders of Treasury bills first to calm the markets and international creditors.
Obama again demanded that the opposition, without concessions, reopen the federal government and authorize raising the debt ceiling.
He also urged Boehner to allow the House to vote on a “clean” bill to fund government operations.
Obama and the Democrats believe a sufficient majority exists in the lower house to pass such a measure because enough Republicans question the Tea Party’s tactic.