Why Obama isn't picking up the phone

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid discusses the potential U.S. government shutdown next to a countdown clock, on Capitol Hill in Washington 26 September 2013 The Democrats have said they will not negotiate

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Conservatives loathe Obamacare and will do anything to wreck it.

They say it will hurt people and the economy. They say opinion polls show a majority are against it.

That's why they have linked what should be a simple matter - funding the government - with a plan to gut the bill.

President Obama is scornful. "Think about it, shutting down the government just because you don't like a law that was passed and found constitutional," he told an audience in Maryland.

The Republicans' ideological fervour has convinced many of them that they are right, and even more that they must look over the shoulder at the Tea Party or risk the next election.

There's little doubt a shutdown would harm the US image and do some damage to the real economy.

So as the hours tick by to a shutdown, the Republican leadership is sounding a little desperate, backed in to a corner. And the Democrats are enjoying watching them squirm.

At a news conference the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, seemed to be pleading with the president to give them something, anything in return for passing a bill.

But the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, had a simple reply to reporters' questions about whether he would negotiate about this, that or the other: "No", "no" and "no".

He said he wouldn't negotiate with a gun pointed at the head of the American people - and talked of Republicans "walking over a cliff", taking "the path to oblivion". One of his colleagues said the impasse was the result of "Tea Party temper tantrums".

They were enjoying themselves, in a rather stern, grim way.

If the Republicans do blink, the war in their ranks will intensify. If they don't they could be seen as putting the obsession of their activists before the needs of the country.

It's little wonder the president isn't picking up the phone.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    MagicKirin @114, Bones @172
    Agreeing slavery was "evil"
    Now "to move on"

    For "sensible solutions to modern day problems", we need 'sensible' definition of those 'problems', their terms to be 'agreeable' between 'sensible' people, whatever their parentage and inherited constitution, 'created equal' and in goodwill to remain equally free, penalised only for laziness or criminality. What follows?

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I'm not sure why GOP is so desperate to destroy itself and lose whatever little credibility & relevance it now has among educated, informed swing voters of America!

    Probably health insurance companies gave and/or still giving too much money & putting immense pressure on GOP/TP to act on its behalf.

    See you (many GOP & TP 'leaders') thrown out of Congress after November by-election folks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    once obamacare is fully implemented, the same shameless GOP & its TP fanatic ally will not call it ObamaCare any more because it will be so much better than the current healthcare system.

    Average premium with identical coverage will be at least 16% less while almost all Americans get heath coverage like all other developed countries- http://is.gd/JHL4h6

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    187. So, the GOP/tea party NO on Obama care funding is the will of the people? Why would Obama bother with obstructionists? Shut down the Govt. and see how fast Joe public comes to Obama's side? Best to chat with Iran's president as it will drive the, GOP Neo Cons and NRA military material folks nuts! No war with Libya, Syria or Iran - how will the warmongers put food on their table?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    175. Bones

    "Perhaps Mr. Post, who appears to be adept at researching old laws could look up one from around 1896, still on the books I believe..."

    Why don't go ahead and look that one up for us, eh?


Comments 5 of 202


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