Just hours before he met with congressional leaders, President Obama delivered a grim message to America’s business community and warned that the current budget impasse and subsequent government shutdown, unlike past partisan squabbles, offer cause for alarm.
“I think this time’s different. I think they should be concerned,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on CNBC. His interview came on the same day the president met with the Financial Services Forum, a group of business figures, Wall Street CEOs and leaders of major banks.
During his CNBC interview, Mr. Obama revealed that he told the Forum that “democracy’s messy,” and told them that the tea party faction of the Republican party is not only willing to shut down the federal government, but also to potentially default on the nation’s debts.
“When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to potentially default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble. And if they’re willing to do it now, they’ll be willing to do it later,” Mr. Obama said.
The U.S. is expected to hit its debt ceiling sometime late this month or in early November; the fight over the raising that limit may turn out to be just as ugly, if not more so, than the current budget stalemate.
The president recorded his CNBC interview a few hours before his 5:30 p.m. meeting at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
SEE ALSO: Obama: ‘Extreme faction’ of GOP risks govt. shutdown over Obamacare dispute
Over the past several days, the White House has urged Mr. Boehner to put on the House floor a “clean” spending bill, one that doesn’t include the repeal, defunding or delaying of the president’s signature health care reform law.
Such a bill, opposed by tea party members of the House GOP caucus, could potentially pass with bipartisan support.
“The only thing that’s stopping it right now is that John Boehner has not been willing to say ‘no’ to a faction of the Republican Party that are willing to burn the house down because of an obsession with my health-care initiative,” Mr. Obama said.
• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at email@example.com.
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