But the president’s line on the first full day of the shutdown was that the whole thing could have been avoided if Republicans had listened to “reason.”
“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen, but I want every American to understand why it did happen: Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. A lot of the Republicans in the House ran for office two years ago promising to shut down the government, and so apparently they’ve now gotten their wish.”
The White House told Americans that the president was blameless for the shutdown.
Asked by a reporter whether Mr. Obama bears any responsibility for the shutdown, White House press secretary Jay Carney replied, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“It is his responsibility to try to work with Congress in the spirit of compromise,” Mr. Carney said. “He certainly did not vote to shut the government down.”
For the second time in as many days, a stern Mr. Obama urged Republican leaders to back down from their determination to repeal, defund or delay Obamacare, the president’s signature domestic achievement.
Key parts of the law went into effect Tuesday, and Mr. Obama again promoted his entitlement program, even reading out the toll-free number — 1-800/318-2596 — and urging Americans to sign up.
With many White House employees furloughed as a result of the shutdown, the president’s Rose Garden event got off to an uncertain start. As Mr. Obama approached the podium, he got squealing feedback from the microphones.
“Can everybody hear me? Mic working?” he asked.
Mr. Obama said the country may not know the full impact of the shutdown on the economy for some time.
“It will depend on how long it lasts,” he said. “We know that the last time Republicans shut down the government in 1996, it hurt our economy.”