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Obama Won't Negotiate Until Shutdown Ends

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Obama was set to meet with top leaders at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

President Barack Obama won’t negotiate a budget with Republicans until they reopen the government, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday.

Although the president has invited the top leaders to the White House for a meeting this afternoon, it appears mainly to be a checking-the-box exercise in response to Republican complaints that the president hasn’t been involved in the current fight over a continuing resolution to fund the government.

Carney said the president would not negotiate a longer-term deal under threat of a continued shutdown or a default on the debt.

Carney said multiple times there is one easy way out of the shutdown: Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has to allow a vote on a “clean” CR.

Carney said the White House is “absolutely sure” the House would pass the bill if Boehner would simply allow a vote.

“What’s he afraid of?” Carney asked.

He repeated that the White House would not support mini-CRs, such as those being voted on Wednesday by the House that would fund veterans and parks, saying that they are not serious and if Republicans are upset by the effects of a government shutdown they should vote to open all of it up.

Instead, Carney said, the GOP has been “hijacked” by a minority.

He dismissed Republican demands for “fairness” in the application of Obamacare by delaying the individual mandate as a “ruse” — yet another attempt by Republicans to dismantle the law they have no interest in improving.

Carney noted that the president has not asked for anything in return.

“He’s asking for nothing. ... Congress should simply open the government.”

He reiterated one of Obama’s talking points, saying “it is not a concession” to the president for Congress to keep the government open or to avoid defaulting on the government’s bills. Carney noted the Treasury Department has said it will not have enough money to cover the nation’s debts come Oct. 17.

Repeatedly, Carney put the pressure directly on Boehner to allow the “democratic” process of a House vote to go forward.

“The government would be up and running by dinner time” if Boehner would merely hold a vote, Carney said.

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