Obama calls impact of government shutdown 'heartbreaking'

Reuters

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Saying the U.S. governmentshutdown was having a "heartbreaking" impact on ordinaryAmericans, President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his callon congressional Republicans to end the five-day stalemate andpass a funding bill without conditions.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have held firmin their refusal to fund and reopen the government untilDemocrats agree to delay implementation of Obama's landmark 2010healthcare law, also known as Obamacare.

In his weekly radio address, Obama ratcheted up the pressureon Republicans, describing the toll the shutdown was having onseveral people who had either lost access to government servicesor been temporarily displaced from their jobs.

Kelly Mumper, an early education worker with three childrenin the military, was one of 150 workers who had to stopproviding care for 770 children enrolled in an early childhoodeducation facility in Alabama, the president said.

"I am extremely concerned for the welfare of thesechildren," Obama quoted Mumper as saying in a letter she wrotehim.

Obama recounted another story about Julia Pruden, a NorthDakota woman who said she wouldn't get a loan to buy a houseunder a Department of Agriculture rural development program inthe event of a government shutdown.

"These are just a few of the many heartbreaking letters I'vegotten from them in the past couple weeks - including more than30,000 over the past few days," he said. "I know thatRepublicans in the House of Representatives are hearing the samekinds of stories."

The standoff, which began at the start of the new fiscalyear on Tuesday and shuttered all but essential governmentoperations, is the latest in a series of budget standoffsbetween Obama and congressional Republicans.

In the past, Republicans have insisted on spending cuts asthe price for budget deals or lifting of the government debtlimit. Their current stand is aimed at derailing Obamacare,which will expand insurance to millions without coverage.

Republicans argue that the law is a massive governmentintrusion into private medicine that will cause insurancepremiums to skyrocket.

Obama and his fellow Democrats vow that they will make nosuch concessions in exchange for an agreement to reopen thegovernment. A meeting between Obama and congressional leadersfrom both parties on Wednesday saw neither side budge.

Republicans are also seeking concessions in exchange forraising the nation's $16.7 trillion debt limit, which is due tobe reached Oct. 17. If the borrowing cap is not increased, theUnited States will go into default, with what officials andeconomists say would be seriously damaging consequences for theU.S. and global economies.

Republicans fault the deadlock on the White House, sayingthe president is stubbornly refusing to compromise. Thepresident has said that he is open to bartering over budgetissues, but not under the threat of a shutdown, and that raisingthe debt limit - and avoiding default - is non-negotiable.

The president canceled a week-long trip to Asia next week todeal with the crisis.

Rates

View Comments (7)