He said he wouldn’t blink. And he didn’t.
Despite Republican hopes, President Obama refused let the Affordable Care Act become part of the deal to end the government shutdown or avoid hitting the debt ceiling. The deal that is making its way through the Senate Wednesday evening fixes both those problems for the next few months, and includes a provision to strengthen an income verification process related to the health insurance subsidies, but has no major concessions on Obamacare.
When asked about this days before the government shutdown, Rep. Paul Ryan told the National Review that he expected the debt ceiling would become part of the same debate. He even said he preferred that, because it would give his party more “leverage,” but he also predicted Obama would be willing to negotiate, despite his warnings to the contrary.
“Oh, nobody believes that [Obama won’t negotiate]. Nobody believes that,” Ryan said on September 28, “He himself negotiated Bowles Simpson on the debt limit with Democrats. That was Kent Conrad’s requirement. He himself negotiated the Budget Control Act with the debt limit. Graham Rudman. Bush Andrews Airforce Base. Clinton Gore ‘97. All of those major budget agreements were debt limit agreements. I see this time as no different and I believe he does too. I think most people believe he’s just posturing for now.”
Both before and after Ryan’s prediction, Obama repeatedly insisted he was not posturing. Here’s a reminder, for the Republicans who might have missed it.
September 27, in the White House Briefing Room:
… House Republicans are so concerned with appeasing the tea party that they’ve threatened a government shutdown or worse unless I gut or repeal the Affordable Care Act.
I said this yesterday; let me repeat it: That’s not going to happen. More than 100 million Americans currently, already have new benefits and protections under the law. On Tuesday, about 40 million more Americans will be able to finally buy quality, affordable health care, just like anybody else. Those marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday no matter what – even if there’s a government shutdown. That’s a done deal.
As I’ve said before, if Republicans have specific ideas on how to genuinely improve the law, rather than gut it, rather than delay it, rather than repeal it, I’m happy to work with them on that through the normal democratic processes. But that will not happen under the threat of a shutdown.
September 30, again in the White House Briefing Room:
I’m always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better. I’m always willing to work with anyone to grow our economy faster, or to create new jobs faster, to get our fiscal house in order for the long run. I’ve demonstrated this time and time again, oftentimes to the consternation of my own party.
But one faction of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election.
Keeping the people’s government open is not a concession to me. Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you “give” to the other side. It’s our basic responsibility. It’s something that we’re doing for our military, and our businesses, and our economy, and all the hardworking people out there – the person working for the Agricultural Department out in some rural community who’s out there helping some farmers make sure that they’re making some modest profit for all the hard work they’re putting in. They’re the person working for HUD who’s helping somebody buy a house for the first time. They’re somebody in a VA office who’s counseling one of our vets who’s got PTSD.
That’s who we’re here to serve. That’s why we’re supposed to be carrying out these responsibilities. It’s why we should be avoiding these kinds of constant brinksmanship. It’s something that we do in the ordinary process of this extraordinary system of government that we have. You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job; for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway; or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like.
October 1, in the Rose Garden:
I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.
There are a whole bunch of things that I’d like to see passed through Congress that the House Republicans haven’t passed yet, and I’m not out there saying, well, I’m not – I’m going to let America default unless Congress does something that they don’t want to do. That’s not how adults operate. Certainly that’s not how our government should operate. And that’s true whether there’s a Democrat in this office or a Republican in this office. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Democratic House of Representatives or a Republican-controlled House of Representatives – there are certain rules that everybody abides by because we don’t want to hurt other people just because we have a political disagreement.
So my basic message to Congress is this: Pass a budget. End the government shutdown. Pay your bills. Prevent an economic shutdown. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Don’t put our economy or our people through this any longer.
I know you’re tired of it. I’m tired of it. It doesn’t mean that they’re wrong on every single issue. I’ve said I’m happy to negotiate with you on anything. I don’t think any one party has a monopoly on wisdom. But you don’t negotiate by putting a gun to the other person’s head – or, worse yet, by putting a gun to the American people’s head by threatening a shutdown.
There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You don’t get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running. You don’t get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job.
October 4, at the Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop in Washington, D.C.:
“I’m happy to have negotiations but we can’t do it with a gun held to the head of the American people.”
October 7, at FEMA headquarters:
There’s not a subject that I am not willing to engage in, work on, negotiate, and come up with common-sense compromises on.
What I’ve said is that I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don’t get 100 percent of their way, they’re going to either shut down the government or they are going to default on America’s debt so that America for the first time in history does not pay its bills. That is not something I will do. We’re not going to establish that pattern.
We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of further harm to our economy and middle-class families. We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of a prolonged shutdown until Republicans get 100 percent of what they want. We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America’s obligations.
If Obama is as true to his word on future plans as he was on this latest Congressional battle, immigration is up next. As he said in an interview with Univision this week, once the debt ceiling is averted, “the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform.”