President Obama slams GOP over shutdown as government employees return to work
The Republican Party was in turmoil Thursday as their battle against Obamacare turned into an effort to control Tea Party conservatives and avoid the threat of another shutdown.
BY DAN FRIEDMAN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2013, 1:21 AM
President Obama criticized Republicans for the government shutdown and pushing the U.S. to the edge of default.
WASHINGTON — The monuments reopened and federal employees streamed back to work, but President Obama on Thursday was not ready to move on from the crisis that paralyzed Congress and made Americans furious at Washington.
In a scorching lecture, Obama blamed Republicans for the government shutdown and its brush with default — a “spectacle” that he said harmed America’s economy and its reputation.
“Nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries,” Obama said.
“It’s encouraged our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.”
With the government reopened, the debt-ceiling raised and their popularity at all-time lows, Republicans were in disarray Thursday.
Congress passed measures ending the shutdown and allowing the U.S. to avoid default late last night.
Bruised and battered, they moved on from fighting Obamacare to fighting each other.
Republican leaders worked to take the threat of another shutdown off the table — and to rein in the Tea Party conservatives who triggered the crisis.
“There will not be a government shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Hill.
“We have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is,” McConnell said, referring to freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and cohorts who championed the GOP threat to shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to gut Obamacare.
“One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” McConnell said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says he 'will continue to do anything' he can to stop Obamacare.
And senior Senate Republicans, such as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), blasted the conservative Heritage Foundation, which championed the shutdown.
But despite their defeat, the Tea Party and its allies renewed fund-raising efforts with a promise of future assaults on Obama’s health care overhaul — and a threat of more election primaries against Republican incumbents who didn’t stand with them over the past two weeks.
“Soon we must focus on important House and Senate races,” conservative darling Sarah Palin told her fans on Facebook.
“Let’s start with Kentucky — which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi . . . We’ve only just begun to fight,” she added.
It was a not-so-veiled threat to McConnell and other GOP senators up for reelection who agreed to the compromise that ended the shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made assurances that the government shutdown will not be repeated.
Cruz also was unbowed. “I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” he told ABC News.
Such threats have left a growing number of Republicans calling for their party to repudiate the Texan. “I’m saying neutralize him,” Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) said.
Inside the Capitol, lawmakers charged with forging a post-shutdown deficit-cutting agreement in the next 60 days met privately.
“We believe there is common ground,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) chair of the Senate Budget Committee.
Privately, officials in both parties said the prospects for a major breakthrough were dim, given differences over taxes and spending that have proven compromise-proof throughout the current three-year era of divided government.
Obama says the government shutdown 'inflicted unnecessary damage' to the U.S. economy and damaged the country's credibility around the world.
Vice President Biden was at the Environmental Protection Agency to greet returning employees.
“I hope this is the end of this,” he said, but he acknowledged “There’s no guarantees.”
That was a reference to the terms of Wednesday’s deal, which will fund the government only until Jan 15 and give Treasury the ability to borrow above the $16.7 trillion limit until the middle of February.
At the White House, Obama blended his critique of Republicans with a plea for cooperation.
“All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do,” he said.
“You don’t like a particular policy or a particular President? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.”