President Barack Obama was caught on an open microphone taunting Republicans over their attempts to repeal healthcare reform and their failure to defund Planned Parenthood.
Obama was meeting privately with backers at a fundraiser in Chicago on Thursday night when his remarks were accidentally piped back into the White House press room.
Reporters there heard him tell the donors: “I said [to Republicans], ‘You want to repeal healthcare? Go at it. We’ll have that debate. You’re not going to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?”
Obama also complained about GOP attempts to defund Planned Parenthood by attaching a bill to the resolution to fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown.
“Put it in a separate bill,” Obama said he told House Speaker John 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.”
Obama was heard commenting that some government workers are “slugs and not trying to do their job,” according to CBS News reporter Mark Knoller. He complained that “we can’t get our phones to work” in the White House.
The open mic also caught the president disparaging Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s Budget Committee chairman who has proposed sweeping cuts in federal spending.
“Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he’s just being America’s accountant,” Obama said in comments reported by USA Today.
“This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my healthcare bill, but wasn’t paid for . . . So it’s not on the level.”
Another prominent Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, was caught in a similar gaffe in March, when he was heard instructing fellow Democrats to paint Republicans as extremist tea party zealots in the budget debates.
Schumer was about to start a conference call with reporters on March 29 and was apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line.
“I always use the word extreme,” Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
He also told his colleagues to characterize the spending cuts called for by Speaker Boehner as extreme.
Like Obama, Vice President Joe Biden was also victimized by an open microphone. In March 2010, as President Obama was preparing to sign the healthcare legislation, Biden was heard to say, “This is a big (expletive) deal.”
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