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Obama readies plan to 're-open' US govt

October 09, 2013 09:34 IST

US President Barack Obama has said that his administration is ready to accept a short term increase in debt ceiling along with reopening of the federal government and then negotiate rest of the issues with the Republicans.

"If they can't do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place," Obama said, urging the Republicans to re-open the government which has been shut down for more than a week now, rendering millions of federal employees without work and pay.

U.S. Capitol building in Washington. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters"I am happy to talk with him (John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives) and other Republicans about anything -- not just issues I think are important but also issues that they think are important," he said.

"I also told him that having such a conversation, talks, negotiations shouldn't require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people," Obama said.

Though, his offer was soon shot down by Boehner.

"The President's position that ‘listen, we're not going to sit down and talk to you until you surrender’ is just not sustainable. It's not our system of government," Boehner said at the Capitol Hill after Obama's went public with his proposals.

"When it comes to the debt limit, I agree with the president. We should pay our bills. I didn't come here to shut down the government. I certainly didn't come here to default on our debt. But when it comes to the debt limit, again, over the last 40 years, 27 times the debt limit has been used to carry significant policy changes that would, in fact, reduce spending and put us on a saner fiscal path," he said.

"Under the Constitution and our system of government, we asked that they sit down and have a conversation with us about funding the government, keeping it open, and providing fairness to the American people under Obamacare. They have refused to do it," Boehner said.

However, Obama accused Republicans led by Boehner as resorting to ransom to which he insisted he would not budge.

US Speaker of the House John Boehner walks towards the House floor on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters"Members of Congress, and the House Republicans in particular, don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs. Two of their very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America's paying its bills. They don't also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I'm going to cause a recession," he said.

"That's not how it works. No American president would deal with a foreign leader like this. Most of you would not deal with either co- workers or business associates in this fashion. And we shouldn't be dealing this way here in Washington," he said.

Obama said he will not negotiate with the Republicans until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing Boehner to issue threats about the economy.

"We can't make extortion routine as part of our democracy. Democracy doesn't function this way. And this is not just for me; it's also for my successors in office. Whatever party they're from, they shouldn't have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We've got to put a stop to it," he said.

"The only thing that I will say is that we're not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That's something that should be non-negotiable, and everybody should agree on that. Everybody should say one of the most valuable things we have is America's creditworthiness. This is not something we should even come close to fooling around with," said the US president.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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