Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Politics

Obama sets conditions for government shutdown talks

WASHINGTON — In their first meeting since a budget impasse shuttered many federal operations, President Barack Obama told Republican leaders Wednesday that he would negotiate with them only after they agreed to the funding needed to reopen the government and also to an essential increase in the nation's debt limit, without add-ons.

The president's position reflected the White House view that the Republicans' strategy is failing. His meeting with congressional leaders, just over an hour long, ended without any resolution.

As they left, Republican and Democratic leaders separately reiterated their contrary positions to waiting reporters. The House speaker, John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama "will not negotiate," while the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Democrats would agree to spending at levels already passed by the House. "My friend John Boehner cannot take 'yes' for an answer," Reid said.

The meeting was the first time that the president linked the two actions that he and a divided Congress are fighting over this month: a budget for the fiscal year that began Tuesday, and an increase in the debt ceiling by Oct. 17, when the Treasury Department will otherwise breach its authority to borrow the money necessary to cover the nation's existing obligations to citizens, contractors and creditors.

Only when those actions are taken, Obama said, would he agree to revive bipartisan talks toward a long-term budget deal addressing the growing costs of Medicare and Medicaid and the inadequacy of federal tax revenues.

While the lack of a budget forced the government shutdown this week, failure to raise the debt limit would have worse repercussions, threatening America's credit rating with a globe-shaking default and risking an economic relapse at home. Yet the refusal by the Republican-led House this week to approve government funding until Obama agrees to delay his signature health care law — a nonnegotiable demand, he has said — raised fears from Washington to Wall Street that Republicans likewise would carry out their threat to withhold approval of an increase in the debt ceiling.

In a meeting with Wall Street executives to enlist their help, and then in an interview with CNBC before his White House meeting with congressional leaders, Obama said he needed to draw a firm line "to break that fever" in the House among hard-line conservatives who repeatedly issued fiscal ultimatums, resulting in government by crisis.

"As soon as we get a clean piece of legislation that reopens the government — and there is a majority for that right now in the House of Representatives — until we get that done, until we make sure that Congress allows Treasury to pay for things that Congress itself already authorized, we are not going to engage in a series of negotiations," Obama told CNBC, a cable business-news channel.

Boehner, under pressure from Republican conservatives and outside tea party groups, has declined to bring a so-called clean continuing resolution to the House for a vote because it would pass mostly with Democrats' votes and probably prompt a conservative backlash that could cost him his leadership office.

Obama, in the interview, said he must resist the Republican demands this time because a precedent was at stake. "If we get in the habit where a few folks, an extremist wing of one party, whether it's Democrat or Republican, are allowed to extort concessions based on a threat of undermining the full faith and credit of the United States, then any president who comes after me — not just me — will find themselves unable to govern effectively," he said.

The House on Tuesday passed measures to reopen the national parks, memorials and federally funded museums, and to finance basic services in the District of Columbia, whose budget is supplemented by Congress. But the Senate Democrats signaled that they would reject the legislation.

When Republicans were criticized for choosing Washington memorials over patients locked out of clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health, including children with cancer, they quickly passed another bill to reopen the agency. Democrats signaled that they would reject that, too.

Today, the House plans to pass measures funding veterans programs and paying inactive National Guard members and reservists.

When Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, was subsequently asked how Republicans could choose to help children with cancer to enroll in the clinical trials, but not allow disadvantaged children to return to their Head Start classes, he replied: "That's coming as well. We are going to take every issue that has come up and put it on the floor."

The president threatened to veto all such one-shot bills, insisting that the government be fully reopened, and congressional Democrats were united behind him.

Even as both sides weighed the costs of the shutdown, their minds had turned to the next, more risky chapter, the deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., recalled that as a senator in 2006, Obama had once voted against an increase in the debt ceiling himself, which he has said was a vote of protest of the deficits caused by President George W. Bush's tax cuts and war spending. "I'm not going to give him a free vote any more than he gave the last president of the United States a free vote," Cole said.

   
Comments
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump team’s falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump team’s falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trump’s staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Updated: 1 hour ago
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year. To a lesser...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17
Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a blur of television ads, conflicting polls and presidential tweets, Doug Jones and Roy Moore raced Monday to make their final pleas in Alabama’s special election for the Senate, with both candidates focused on turning out their...
Published: 12/11/17
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

WASHINGTON — Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s "...
Published: 12/09/17
PolitiFact's 2017 Lie of the Year: Russian election interference is a 'made-up story'

PolitiFact's 2017 Lie of the Year: Russian election interference is a 'made-up story'

A mountain of evidence points to a single fact: Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. In both classified and public reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered actions to interfere with ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago