Obama's Shots at Congress Toughen GOP Resolve

Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013 10:29 AM

By John Gizzi

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No sooner had President Barack Obama finished his news conference Tuesday — calling on House Republicans to end the government shutdown with a warning that "you do not hold people hostage or engage in ransom-taking to get 100 percent of your way" — that GOP lawmakers made it clear they were not giving in.

Angry at the president's tone, House Republicans now appear less inclined to sit down with him over the impasse in government funding than they were before.

"It was frustrating to see a chief executive of the United States behave this way," Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio told Newmax.

"For 4½ years he has refused to address the fiscal crisis we're in. So we have more government spending, higher taxes, and we're facing a high-cost bill in the Affordable Care Act," Johnson said.

As for the president's warnings about America defaulting on its obligations unless Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling, Johnson said flatly: "He's not going to get it."

Reaching the debt limit, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 17, "will force the administration to live with less and prioritize spending, as many American families are now forced to do," Johnson said.

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas told Newsmax he felt Obama's latest salvo at House Republicans "poisons the well" and makes a compromise "more difficult."

"It's surreal," said Stockman. "When he talks about us refusing to negotiate unless we get our way, he's accusing us of doing what he's doing."

Stockman, who served a term in the House during the last government shutdown in 1995-96, recalled that "Bill Clinton, whatever you thought of him or how much you disagreed, was always around and negotiating with us. Right now, this president isn't even doing that."

"He's taken a bad situation and made it worse," Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska told Newsmax. "I watched [his news conference] with several colleagues in the Republican cloakroom, and I can tell you, Republicans as a whole in the House are very offended.

"He uses terms like 'terrorists' and 'extremists' and won't negotiate with us. But he negotiates with real terrorists in Iran," Terry said.

"By refusing to offer anything new in terms of reaching an agreement, the president has boxed himself in as much as we [House Republicans] have boxed ourselves in. Leaders don't do that," Terry said.

In the last week, Terry said, phone calls and emails from his Omaha district are running 5-to-1 against the shutdown.

Is there an opening for some Republicans to move to now sit down with the White House?

"No," he said, "because I don't think the president is giving us much of a choice."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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