News / USA

Obama Open to Talks, Short-Term Debt Deal

Impasse Perists Between Obama, Boehner on Budgeti
October 09, 2013 5:33 AM
Rival political parties in Washington are continuing their rhetoric about government funding, raising worldwide concerns that the impasse may lead the United States to default on its debt for the first time in history. For the past week, U.S. President Barack Obama has been urging Republicans to stop jeopardizing the U.S. and global economy. Speaker of the House John Boehner has remained adamant that Democrats must modify the government spending plan to include more Republican preferences.
Watch related video from VOA's Zlatica Hoke
U.S. President Barack Obama says he is open to broad budget talks and a potential short term debt limit deal. But he says he will not sit down with Republicans while a government shutdown continues and Americans are subject to what he calls "extortion" by extreme elements in the Republican Party.  

Obama spoke Tuesday after telephoning Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to reiterate an offer to negotiate, but not while the partial government shutdown continues, or under the threat of a potential default.

The US debt limit:

  • Is the total amount of money the US government can borrow to meet existing legal obligations
  • Obligations include Social Security, Medicare, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds
  • Raising the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments
  • Failing to increase the debt limit would cause the government to default on its legal obligations
  • Since 1960, Congress has acted to raise the debt limit 78 times

Source: US Department of Treasury
He said he recognizes the difficulties of working together in a divided government and remains willing to work through a range of issues and negotiate on any topic.  

But he said he will not continue a pattern in which lawmakers hold Americans and the economy "hostage" to specific demands.

"We're not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills.  That is something that should be non-negotiable, and everybody should agree on that.  Everybody should say one of the most valuable things that we have is America's creditworthiness.  This is not something we should even come close to fooling around with," said President Obama.

Speaker Boehner on Tuesday renewed his appeal for negotiations over Republican demands that have included dismantling or delaying key parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which took effect October 1.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the press following a House Republican party meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the press following a House Republican party meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the press following a House Republican party meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the press following a House Republican party meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013.
Boehner said nothing would be off the table in any negotiations.  But reacting to Obama's remarks, the Republican lawmaker suggested that the president is not providing room for compromise.

"What the president said today is, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he will sit down and talk to us," said Boehner.

On Capitol Hill, Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra accused Republicans of ignoring poll numbers showing Americans are impatient with Republican tactics.

"We should be talking about strengthening the economy and building a stronger middle class.  Instead, we are trying to figure out why Republicans won't let us have a vote on reopening our government," said Becerra.

As the October 17 deadline approaches for Congress to increase the government borrowing limit, the stalemate is fueling speculation that new so-called "grand bargain" deficit talks may be required.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell:

"This is not 2009 and 2010 when our friends on the other side had a total hammer lock on all the government.  We now have divided government.  It means we have to talk to each other and get to an outcome," said McConnell.

Obama reacted skeptically to a House Republican proposal to establish a House-Senate "working group" to seek further deficit reduction, modeled on a so-called "super committee" in 2011.

"What is not fair and will not result in an actual deal is ransom-taking, or hostage-taking, and the expectation that Democrats are providing ransom or providing concessions for the mere act of reopening the government, or paying our bills," said Obama.

The president also spoke about global implications for U.S. credibility of the political stalemate, and the potential of default.

He noted that the U.S. government shutdown forced him to miss attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia.

"I had to miss critical meetings in Asia to promote American jobs and businesses.  And although as long as we get this fixed, that is not long-term damage, whenever we do these things it hurts our credibility around the world, it makes it look like we don't have our act together," he said.

Obama said there were "lost opportunities" in the short term with countries that welcome the U.S. economic and strategic pivot to Asia, but he believes leaders understand that resolving the U.S. budget dispute is important for them.

President Obama also was asked about the recent U.S. special forces operations in Libya, to apprehend a wanted terrorist, and in Somalia.

Asked if the capture of al-Qaida operative Abu Anas al-Libi complied with international law, he said the U.S. has "strong evidence" that al-Libi "planned and helped execute plots that killed hundreds of people."

Obama said Africa is one place where regional groups, some tied to al-Qaida, have developed that require U.S. action, but he added there is a difference between going after terrorists plotting directly against the U.S. and America being involved in wars.

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Comment Sorting
by: Connie from: new jersey
October 10, 2013 11:44 AM
Debt problem bigger than people realize just thought if two parties can't come together maybe should have medator like top spiritual leaders,, we need God help with our nation anyway.

by: Dianna from: Texas
October 09, 2013 2:13 PM
Who is running out nation after is it that "NO ONE" knew that you had no funding in place for the families of our fallen troops!!!!???? Shame on you Barrack Obama...your our leader!!!!
At least I thought so.
In Response

by: Vikki from: California
October 10, 2013 10:44 AM
If Obama was running the country by himself that would be a dictatorship and not democracy. So don't forget to mention Congress as well. Shame on the Speaker of the house and who he represents! Tea Party, Koch Brothers etc. Don't think for one minute both sides did not know how this would affect the military! That's why there was a CR written by the Congress weeks before the shutdown for Obama to sig. Get the facts!

by: JULI EFENDI from: Riau Province,Indonesia
October 08, 2013 9:43 PM
It's a good policy for US. I think when Obama consern about this Budget Talks, Short-Term Debt Deal, But Government Must Reopen First US can be strong. APEC in Nusa Dua Bali is Forum for US making Reletionship for Businnes and making investor in Asia Market.I hope Indonesia can do that next time.
In Response

by: alan from: los angles
October 08, 2013 11:52 PM
let it be

by: crystal from: US
October 08, 2013 9:35 PM
Obama and congress must think every person in the United States is so dumbed down we will believe anything. We know who will not negotiate. Obama care is not free health care, it is no fault health insurance, for the privilege of breathing air. What a joke.

by: Brandt from: Nashville
October 08, 2013 5:10 PM
Boehner is laying the general public on the tracks to be run over in his unwinnable game of chicken. Is the sole purpose of the Republican Party to just bamboozle Obama now? In the process, they’re making every last American dance for their dinner (and healthcare.)

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 08, 2013 2:55 PM
Seems Obama doesn't have good advisers who tell him the truth if he fails to understand it himself. If the country slips into deep recession, who is the number one person to blame for it? Mr. Obama is the one person saddled with the fate of the whole country, and he thinks that because congress slows him down posterity will hold them instead of him accountable for the failure of USA under his presidency? Whoever is assuring the president so that he follows this destructive way must be his worst enemy, because such adviser wants Mr. president to sink his image rather than remain afloat like a proud president of America. Mr. Obama should wake up from his euphoria of being the first black president of USA to the reality of leading the country to more prosperity. Winning the first and second terms is not enough, it is succeeding that matters. Right now the presidency is failing, and the blame will not go to any other than Barrack Obama. Free the country by doing the thing. Now is the time, not tomorrow.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 08, 2013 2:11 PM
It’s a big surprise to hear Mr. Obama talking tough in this way. This was a man that could as much as raise his voice at Assad of Syria, Ahmadinejad of Iran and was so intimidated by Iran’s super-diplomacy that he called Rouhani on his way to the airport. After Syria aided by USSR, sorry Russia, used this approach to force him trip over his red line on Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Mr. Obama must have fallen in love with the bluff and perhaps feels that John Boehner was going to fall for that also. Does he not know that it’s only used when one is operating from a vintage position, not when something as huge as national interest is at stake? Seems Mr. Obama is a president in reverse. He is tough where he should be mild, and shy when he should be bold to assert American position in the comity of nations. I blame the deadlock on Mr. president. It’s either he implements obamacare or another president will do it when the time for it is auspicious.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: Namibia
October 08, 2013 5:09 PM
reference to USSR clearly puts you in the clueless category, and shows where you are mentally coming from -not Nigeria.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 08, 2013 2:59 PM
Godwin from Nigeria or MEK from Texas? Anyways, the President wants better ties with better sides of Iranians and that is not called "intimidation"

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