|Obama fires US debt default warning shot amid government shutdown stalemate
Talks between an exasperated US President Barack Obama and top Republicans failed to end a government shutdown Wednesday. Both sides accused the other of refusing to budge. (pictured, US lawmakers, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid)
Obama meanwhile, sent Wall Street a blunt warning that it should be very worried about a political crisis that has paralyzed the federal government and could yet trigger a US catastrophic debt default.
The president met for more than an hour with Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House Democratic boss Nancy Pelosi.
But there was no sign that the talks made headway.
“The president reiterated one more time that he will not negotiate,'' Boehner said.
On that point at least, the two sides agreed.
Obama said in an interview with CNBC that he would not negotiate on budget matters until Republicans had passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the US$16.7 trillion US debt ceiling – a move that must happen within two weeks or Washington could default on its obligations for the first time.
Obama's spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement saying that his boss hoped “common sense'' will prevail.
Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked Republican House funding bills that seek to dismantle or delay Obama's signature health care reform bill.
The impasse left the government without a budget for the new fiscal year, and the shutdown goes into a third day Thursday.
Reid emerged from the talks complaining at Boehner's attitude, and vowed never to allow Republicans to overturn the health care law.
“We are locked in tight on Obamacare,'' Reid said.
Obama earlier said he was “exasperated'' by the budget impasse in Congress, in an interview apparently designed to pressure Republicans by targeting the financial community.
Obama warned that investors should be worried.
“This time's different. I think they should be concerned,'' Obama said. “When you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on US government obligations, then we are in trouble.''
Obama said he would not negotiate until House lawmakers pass a temporary financing bill and raise the debt ceiling.
“If and when ... that vote takes place and the government reopens, and if and when they vote to make sure Congress pays our bills on time so America does not default on costs it's already accrued, then I am prepared to have a reasonable, civil negotiation around a whole slew of issues,'' Obama said.