Standing before a blue screen dotted with #LetsTalk hashtags, Speaker John Boehner blasted President Barack Obama and Democrats on Friday for playing a game of brinksmanship over the government shutdown and the hitting of the looming debt ceiling.
“This isn’t some damn game!” Boehner said at a press conference. “The American people don’t want their government shutdown and neither do I! All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a discussion, reopen the government, and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare.”
“It’s as simple as that,” he explained. “But it all has to begin with a simple discussion.”
For months, Democrats and the Obama administration have refused to negotiate with Republicans on a plan to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which the nation will officially hit October 17.
“Democrats are unwilling to bargain on the debt ceiling,” top Democratic House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) said back in May.
In August, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said, “The president will not negotiate conditions on the debt limit.”
And on Thursday, Obama blasted Boehner, blaming him for the impasse and saying that Boehner had succumbed to the will of “extremists in his party.”
Boehner fired back on Friday that he has always opposed a government shutdown and has sought a way to avert a debt ceiling crisis for months.
“I was opposed to shutting the government down–that’s no secret,” said Boehner. “I’m opposed to defaulting on the debt–that’s no secret.”
On Tuesday, Politico reported that White House officials say “Obama doesn’t see any reason to back off his hard-line position” as long as the GOP seeks to negotiate ways to lessen the burdens of Obamacare on American families and workers.
As the battle between Obama and Boehner intensifies, polls show voters are on the GOP’s side in seeking spending cuts in exchange for a raising of the debt ceiling. A Bloomberg poll found that 61% of voters believe it is “right to require spending cuts when the debt ceiling is raised even if it risks default.”