The blame game is in full swing in Washington amid the partial shutdown of the federal government.
“Government is closed, because of the irrationality of what is going on on the other side of the Capitol,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the floor of the Senate Tuesday morning.
“They’d rather see the government shut down than do anything to protect the American people from the consequences of Obamacare,” countered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the majority members of the U.S. House are extortionists.
“If you give in to this kind of extortion, you will be extorted again even more so.”
Name-calling on Tuesday surged as the Democrats criticized members of the Republican Party in the U.S. House, which sent a bill to the Senate that tied defunding Obamacare to the continued general funding of the federal government.
“What we see happening with this Republican strategy is a willingness to threaten the very foundation of the world’s greatest economic power, the economy that basically stabilizes the entire world economic system, and that is a very risky proposition,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The Democrats in the U.S. Senate Monday night refused to talk with House Republicans, voting down House proposals one after another. Reid also refused to appoint members of a conference committee the House sought.
The majority leader was following a hard line laid down by Obama to shut down the government unless the House Republicans met the Senate Democrats’ demands.
With the 2014 election campaigns swiftly approaching, Democrats took to the microphones to insist to the public that it is the Republicans who are at fault.
“Speaker [John] Boehner made the reckless and irresponsible choice to let the government shut down,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called it “the height or irresponsibility.”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., labeled the Republicans “fakers” after interrupting another member of the Democratic Party who was talking about the party’s refusal to drop taxpayer subsidies for members’ own health coverage.
“They want that to not prevail because it harms them, but they want us to vote against it over and over again,” Pelosi said.
“We’re not going to bow to tea party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law. We will not bow to tea party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional,” he said.
Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., wasn’t into calling names; he was into shouting.
“The American taxpayers continue to pay taxes to this country, and they’re going to get less for it,” he shouted. “It’s outrageous that we would play these types of games with the American people. It’s about the health and safety of our country, and the Republican caucus is letting this country down.”
The reaction came after Democrats, including Reid and Obama, said they would refuse to negotiate with the U.S. House over defunding Obamacare while complaints about the health-care law mount and polls show most Americans don’t like it.
At a press conference with Republican leaders Thursday morning, Boehner criticized the president’s decision to delay the requirement that big businesses provide health care while putting everyone else on the hook, calling for “basic fairness.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said he was “disappointed by President Obama and Harry Reid’s refusal to negotiate in good faith to keep the government open.”
“I will be working to get the government open,” he said.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, accused Obama of being “absolutely allergic to doing his job.”
“We know the president has been eager to negotiate with the president of Iran about a very serious issue, Iran’s nuclear aspirations, but he won’t talk to the speaker of the House of Representatives or the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate,” Cornyn said.
Analysts said Democrats must convince the public that Republicans are to blame for the shutdown, because a Republican majority in the House and gains in the Senate in 2014 would shut down Obama’s agenda.
Late Monday afternoon, Obama chastised GOP lawmakers in remarks at the White House.
“Right now, House Republicans continue to tie funding of the government to ideological demands like limiting a woman’s access to contraception or delaying the Affordable Care Act, all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party,” Obama said.
He added: “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.”
Reid echoed the theme, placing responsibility on Boehner’s shoulders.
“It will be a Republican government shutdown — that’s pure and simple,” Reid said before the midnight deadline.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., told reporters Monday that “the only person who’s not negotiating” was Reid.
“He doesn’t want to deal with our debt. He doesn’t want to deal with our deficit,” Stutzman said. “When we have must-pass bills, that’s the time we have to force something to happen.”
Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, known for his reporting on Watergate, said it’s up to a president to lead in times of controversy.
He said it’s reasonable for a president to say he won’t be blackmailed.
But he added: “They should be meeting, discussing this, because as I think Steve Ratner showed earlier, the American economy is at stake and the president, if there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could happen here that’s bad, it’s going to be on his head.”
Woodward said the history books “are going to say, we had an economic calamity in the presidency of Barack Obama.”
“Speaker Boehner, indeed, is playing a role on this,” he said. “Go back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. I’ll bet no one can name who was the speaker of the House at the time. Henry Thomas Rainey. He’s not in the history book … it’s on the president’s head. He’s got to lead. He’s got to talk. And the absence of discussion here, I think, is [the] baffling element.”
Glen Bolger, a leading Republican pollster, said in a memo Monday that the party should tell the public that it effectively offered a compromise by backing down from plans to “kill Obamacare” to merely “delaying it a year.”
“That’s a pretty big move and is worthy of negotiation, not sneering rejection,” he wrote. “Obama’s refusal to negotiate and compromise needs to be hammered home. The press won’t cover it unless we say it.”
Jim Kuhnhenn wrote for Associated Press that the tone was set by Obama, “the confrontational Obama, the ‘make my day’ president.”
He suggested that the spending plan now at issue, the “continuing resolution,” is just the prelude.
Coming in only two weeks is a demand by the president that the House raise the borrowing limit for the government. Obama has insisted there will be no negotiations at all.
Kuhnhenn wrote: “It’s a proposition not without risk and one with a history of last-minute accommodations on both sides. Brinkmanship between Obama and congressional Republicans has often stopped at the precipice’s edge.”
The AP writer said that in the current round, however, “the president and his aides maintain that when it comes to raising the government’s borrowing authority and meeting its debt obligations, there’s no bargaining.”
“To conservatives wishing to undo the 3-year-old health care law in exchange for an increase in the nation’s credit, Obama on Friday said bluntly: ‘That’s not going to happen.’”
Boehner pointed out that in the U.S. system of government, Congress writes the laws and the president enforces them.
“The president says, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’” Boehner said. “Well, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was blamed for government shutdowns in the Clinton administration in the 1990s, told The Brody File that Obama needs to step up to the plate.
“The big problem is that President Obama refuses to behave like an American president; he refuses to deal with the Congress as his equal, which it is in the Constitution,” he said. “The president puts himself above the Constitution, and that’s very dangerous for our freedoms.”
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