Obama: 'If There's No Political Heat...Then Nothing Happens'

October 9, 2013 - 7:26 AM

Obama Budget Battle

President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House in Washington. The president said he told House Speaker John Boehner he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on their priorities, but not under the threat of "economic chaos." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama hinted at a news conference on Tuesday that he understands how things get done in Washington.

He admitted that he's "tempted" to fund parts of the government, as Republicans have tried to do by passing bills that fund the National Park Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other critical government functions.

"Of course I'm tempted, because you'd like to think that you could solve at least some of the problem if you couldn't solve all of it," Obama said.

"But here's the problem. What you've seen are bills that come up where -- wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure, they put a bill forward. And if there's no political heat, if there's no television story on it, then nothing happens.

"And if we do some sort of shotgun approach like that, then you'll have some programs that are highly visible get funded and reopened, like national monuments, but things that don't get a lot of attention, like those SBA (Small Business Administration) loans, not being funded."

Republicans agree that without political heat, nothing happens in Washington -- and that's why they're using a stopgap funding bill and the debt limit in an attempt to get concessions from President Obama, so far without result.

President Obama has insisted that members of Congress "don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job." And he repeatedly has refused to talk with Republicans until they resume government funding and pass a debt limit increase without strings attached.

"And you know, we don't get to select which programs we implement or not," Obama said on Tuesday. "You know, there are a whole bunch of things that the Republicans have said are law that we have to do. And I don't get a chance to go back and say, you know what, this cockamamie idea that this Republican congressman came up with I really don't like, so let's not -- let's not implement that."

Obama said Republicans should try to defund programs they don't like as part of the regular budget process, which would involve negotiating with Democrats. "Maybe the Democrats will agree, and those things won't be funded. But you don't do a piecemeal approach like that when you're dealing with a government shutdown, OK?"

Earlier in the news conference, Obama repeated his willingness to negotiate with "reasonable Republicans," once the "more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy."

"I mean, what I've said is that I will talk about anything. What'll happen is we won't agree on everything. I mean, the truth is, is that the parties are pretty divided on a whole big -- bunch of big issues right now. Everybody understands that."