President Obama admits: When it comes to Republicans and the government shutdown, he’s “exasperated.”
“During the course of my presidency I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party and have purposely kept my rhetoric down . I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy. But sometimes people think I’m too calm. But am I exasperated, absolutely I’m exasperated.because this is entirely unnecessary,” he told CNBC’s John Harwood.
Obama’s remarks came on Day 2 of the government shutdown – a direct result of House Republicans quixotically rallying around a plan to fund the government only in exchange for delaying or defunding the president’s Affordable Health Care Act.
With Republicans in disarray and engaged in internecine bickering over the shutdown, Obama spent much of today courting a traditional Republican power base: Big business. Obama met with several CEOs who attended a Financial Services Forum with the president, including the heads of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. The message to the GOP seems clear: Even your Wall Street benefactors oppose you in this government shutdown fight.
“There’s precedent for a government shutdown…there’s no precedent for default,” Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said after the meeting.
In addition, the president has set up a meeting with leaders in Congress from both parties at 5:30 p.m. House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to attend.
Obama “will urge the House to pass the clean CR to reopen the government, and call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills we have already incurred and avoid devastating consequences on our economy,” a White House official told NBC News.
The shutdown has forced approximately 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspended several nonessential federal programs and services.
Obama has called the shutdown a consequence of the GOP’s “ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.” And while Obama has said he is willing to negotiate, he won’t barter over the debt ceiling – which America is set to eclipse on Oct. 17 – and which the president cast as the mere paying of bills Congress has “already racked up” being held hostage over legislation –Obamacare—that’s already been passed.
The White House has said the president will veto the House GOP’s piecemeal approach to try and fund things that are politically popular. Spokesman Ann Brundage said “The president and the Senate have been clear that they won’t accept this kind of game-playing, and if these bills were to come to the president’s desk he would veto them.”