President Barack Obama, interviewed by CNBC's John Harwood, says House Speaker John Boehner could end the government shutdown in a matter of minutes—if he would simply allow a vote on legislation to fund the government with no strings attached:
We have a situation right now, where if House Speaker John Boehner puts a bill on the floor to reopen the government at current funding levels, so that we can then negotiate on a real budget that allows us to stop governing from crisis to crisis, it would pass. The only thing that is stopping him is that John Boehner right now is not willing to say no to a faction of the Republican Party that are willing to burn the House down because of an obsession over my health care initiative.Obama said he is "exasperated" with the GOP's "irresponsible" gamesmanship, especially given that the GOP's main objective is to deny people access to affordable health insurance:
"I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say that 20 million people, 'you can't have health insurance, they will not reopen the government.' That is irresponsible," he said.Obama also said that the GOP's unwillingness to stand up to its extremists should alarm Wall Street businesses:
While gridlock in D.C. is nothing new, "this time I think Wall Street should be concerned," Obama said.Obama's message on both the debt limit and government shutdown is that it's a only a faction of the GOP that is causing the current crisis, and in fact, 18 Republicans have said they would vote for a clean CR, which combined with Democrats means there are enough votes to pass legislation reopening the government.
"When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to default on U.S. obligations, then we are in trouble," Obama said.
The challenge is allowing such a vote to take place. Boehner certainly hasn't allowed a vote on a clean CR to come up, and despite their public support for voting for one, virtually all of the 18 Republicans who say they want a clean CR have yet to oppose Boehner on the procedural votes that allow him avoid holding votes on funding the government. And until they flex their muscle to force a vote, or Boehner relents and allows a vote, the government will remain closed and we will hurtle towards default.