Transcript: President Barack Obama’s press conference on the government shutdown & debt ceiling – Oct. 8, 2013 – Part III

Part III of VI: Transcript of remarks by President Barack Obama on the government shutdown and debt ceiling. The press conference was held on Oct. 8, 2013.

…With Speaker Boehner so far unwilling to hold a vote on a clean CR, what assurances can you give those affected by the shutdown who are concerned by an even longer impasse? And worried are you personally that your preferred solution to this is a clean CR at sequestration levels may do harm to the nation’s economy and your second term agenda?

President Barack Obama:
Well, I mean, Sam you’re making an important point, which is what we’re asking of the Republicans right now is to keep the government open at funding levels that Democrats think are very harmful to the economy and inadequate to make sure that the economy is growing faster, more people are put back to work, and the middle-class is growing. We’re willing to pass at least a short-term budget that opens up the government at current funding levels. It doesn’t even address the harm that’s being done because of sequestration.

Now, the Democrats have a budget that would eliminate sequestration – this meat cleaver approach to deficit reduction – and make sure that we’re adequately funding basic medical research and Head Start programs and VA program and a whole range of things that have been really hard hit this year.

But we recognize that there are going to have to be some compromises between the Democratic position and the Republican position. And in the meantime, we shouldn’t hurt the economy even worse by shutting down the government.

So let me just give you an example very specifically. Because of sequestration, because of the meat cleaver cuts that have been taking place over the course of this year, thousands of families have lost Head Start slots for their children. And so you’ve had parents all across the country who have been scrambling trying to figure out “How can I find some decent quality childcare for my kids?” Now, the government shutdown means several thousand more are going to be losing their slots.

If we vote today or tomorrow or the next day in the House of Representatives to go ahead and re-open the government, at least those additional several thousand people will be spared the difficulties of trying to scramble and figure out where your kids are going to be when you’re trying to go to work.

But it doesn’t solve the broader problems and if we were going to have real negotiations, then Democrats would say, “Let’s solve the bigger problem. What about those who have been hurt by the sequester?” The Democrats aren’t making that demand right now. We understand that there’s going to be some give and take. What we are saying is don’t hurt more people while we’re trying to resolve these differences. Let’s just at least make sure that we keep the lights on while we’re having these conversations.

…Backpay for furloughed federal workers?

President Barack Obama:
Absolutely, I mean, that’s what we’ve always done.

You talked about the hit to credibility around the world that this impasse has caused. I’m wondering what you and your administration are telling worried foreign creditors – China and Japan – who are calling and asking about whether the United States is going to avoid defaulting on its debts?

President Barack Obama:
Well, you know, I won’t disclose any specific conversations but obviously my message to the world is the United States always has paid its bills and it will do so again. But I think they’re not just looking at what I say. They’re looking at what Congress does and that ultimately is up to Speaker Boehner.

This will not get resolved. We’re not going to calm creditors until they see Speaker Boehner call up a bill that re-opens the government and authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to pay our bills on time. And until they see that, there is going to be a cloud over U.S. economic credibility but it is not one from which we cannot recover. I mean, we’ve been through this before.

You know, every country, every democracy in particular, has tussles over the budget and I think most world leaders understand it. They themselves have been through it if they’re in a democracy.

What you haven’t seen before, I think, from the vantage point of a lot of world leaders is the notion that one party in Congress might blow the whole thing up if they don’t get their way. They’ve never seen that before, and that does make them nervous, particularly given what happened in 2011.

I mean, keep in mind we’ve been here before right? We saw what happened in 2011. The assumption was that the Americans must have learned their lessons, that there would be budget conflicts but nobody again would threaten the possibility that we would default. And when they hear members of the Senate, members of Congress saying maybe default wouldn’t be that bad, I’ll bet that makes them nervous.

Makes me nervous. It should make the American people nervous because that’s irresponsible. It is out of touch with reality. It is based on a flawed analysis on how our economy works. You cannot pay some bills and not others and think somehow that the fact that you’re paying some bills protects you from a loss of creditworthiness. It’s not what happens in our personal lives and I don’t know why people think that that’s how it works for the United States government.


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3 Comments on “Transcript: President Barack Obama’s press conference on the government shutdown & debt ceiling – Oct. 8, 2013 – Part III

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: Debt Limit 2013 | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: President Barack Obama's press conference on the government shutdown & debt ceiling - Oct. 8, 2013 - Part I | What The Folly?!

  3. Pingback: Transcript: President Barack Obama’s press conference on the government shutdown & debt ceiling – Oct. 8, 2013 – Part V | What The Folly?!

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