Obama said he has tried all year to negotiate with Republicans on the budget but did not achieve success.
“We’ve been talking all kinds of business,” he said. “What we haven’t been able to get is serious positions from the Republicans that would actually allow us to solve core differences.”
Obama urged Americans not to be complacent about the threat of default.
“As reckless as a government shutdown is, the economic shutdown caused by America defaulting would be dramatically worse,” he said.
“Even though people can see and feel the effects of the government shutdown, there are still some people out there who don’t believe default is a real thing.”
Contrary to what some supposedly business-oriented Republicans say, Obama declared, a default would be “a big deal.” He added: “There’s no business person out there who thinks this wouldn’t be a big deal.”
Saying otherwise “is irresponsible,” Obama said. “It is out of touch with reality.”
The president also ruled out using the 14th Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt limit. He said inviting “legal controversy” about the U.S. Treasury’s authority to issue debt would mean that “the damage would have been done” even if the action were found constitutional.
“There are no magic bullets here,” Obama said.
In opening remarks at the news conference, Obama said: “The last time that the tea party Republicans flirted with the idea of default, two years ago, markets plunged, business and consumer confidence plunged, America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time.” Actually permitting the government to default on its debt, he said, quoting business leaders and economists, “would be . . . ‘insane, catastrophic, chaos’ — these are some of the more polite words.”
Obama made the comments as House Republican leaders pressed demands for negotiations with Senate Democrats and Obama over bills to fund the government and raise the debt limit, but declined to lay out what they are seeking in the proposed talks.
Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday after his weekly meeting with House Republicans, Boehner charged that “by refusing to negotiate,” Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) “are putting our country on a pretty dangerous path.” Obama has rejected Republican provisions to curtail or delay his health-care law as part of a short-term government funding bill and has demanded a debt-ceiling increase without “partisan” attachments.
“Listen, there’s never been a president in our history that did not negotiate over the debt limit,” Boehner said. “Never. Not once. As a matter of fact, President Obama negotiated with me over the debt limit in 2011. He also negotiated with the Blue Dog Democrats to raise the debt in ceiling in 2010. So the way to resolve this is to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences.”