In a closed-door chat with campaign donors Thursday in Chicago, President Obama was much blunter in his criticism of Republicans and his defense of his own policies than he has ben publicly. CBS Radio News White House reporter Mark Knoller listened to an audio feed from the private discussion, which the president apparently did not know was still on, and took notes. The hot mic caught Obama saying he essentially dared Republicans to try to repeal his health-care law during budget negotiations.
"I said, 'You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?'" recalled the president of his closed-door negotiations on the bill to fund the federal government until September.Later in the discussion, Obama said he told Republicans that they should try to pass a standalone bill to defund Planned Parenthood, rather than attach a rider to the budget bill.
"Put it in a separate bill," the president said he told Boehner and his staff. "We'll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don't try to sneak this through."
The president also made some remarks about the federal work force, which Knoller tweeted Friday. Obama said his staff at the White House was "as good as anybody else," and federal workers are "generally smart and dedicated."
"I would put up federal workers against anybody in the private sector," Obama said, according to Knoller, but added that some government workers "are slugs and not trying to do their jobs.”
Obama also lamented the technology at the White House, Knoller reported. He said he thought he'd have "some cool phones and stuff," but "we can't get our phones to work." He said the government's IT is "horrible."
"When it comes to technology, we are like 30 years behind," Obama said.