Why Obama isn't picking up the phone

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid discusses the potential U.S. government shutdown next to a countdown clock, on Capitol Hill in Washington 26 September 2013 The Democrats have said they will not negotiate

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Conservatives loathe Obamacare and will do anything to wreck it.

They say it will hurt people and the economy. They say opinion polls show a majority are against it.

That's why they have linked what should be a simple matter - funding the government - with a plan to gut the bill.

President Obama is scornful. "Think about it, shutting down the government just because you don't like a law that was passed and found constitutional," he told an audience in Maryland.

The Republicans' ideological fervour has convinced many of them that they are right, and even more that they must look over the shoulder at the Tea Party or risk the next election.

There's little doubt a shutdown would harm the US image and do some damage to the real economy.

So as the hours tick by to a shutdown, the Republican leadership is sounding a little desperate, backed in to a corner. And the Democrats are enjoying watching them squirm.

At a news conference the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, seemed to be pleading with the president to give them something, anything in return for passing a bill.

But the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, had a simple reply to reporters' questions about whether he would negotiate about this, that or the other: "No", "no" and "no".

He said he wouldn't negotiate with a gun pointed at the head of the American people - and talked of Republicans "walking over a cliff", taking "the path to oblivion". One of his colleagues said the impasse was the result of "Tea Party temper tantrums".

They were enjoying themselves, in a rather stern, grim way.

If the Republicans do blink, the war in their ranks will intensify. If they don't they could be seen as putting the obsession of their activists before the needs of the country.

It's little wonder the president isn't picking up the phone.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    MagicKirin @114, Bones @172
    Agreeing slavery was "evil"
    Now "to move on"

    For "sensible solutions to modern day problems", we need 'sensible' definition of those 'problems', their terms to be 'agreeable' between 'sensible' people, whatever their parentage and inherited constitution, 'created equal' and in goodwill to remain equally free, penalised only for laziness or criminality. What follows?

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I'm not sure why GOP is so desperate to destroy itself and lose whatever little credibility & relevance it now has among educated, informed swing voters of America!

    Probably health insurance companies gave and/or still giving too much money & putting immense pressure on GOP/TP to act on its behalf.

    See you (many GOP & TP 'leaders') thrown out of Congress after November by-election folks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    once obamacare is fully implemented, the same shameless GOP & its TP fanatic ally will not call it ObamaCare any more because it will be so much better than the current healthcare system.

    Average premium with identical coverage will be at least 16% less while almost all Americans get heath coverage like all other developed countries- http://is.gd/JHL4h6

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    187. So, the GOP/tea party NO on Obama care funding is the will of the people? Why would Obama bother with obstructionists? Shut down the Govt. and see how fast Joe public comes to Obama's side? Best to chat with Iran's president as it will drive the, GOP Neo Cons and NRA military material folks nuts! No war with Libya, Syria or Iran - how will the warmongers put food on their table?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    175. Bones

    "Perhaps Mr. Post, who appears to be adept at researching old laws could look up one from around 1896, still on the books I believe..."

    Why don't go ahead and look that one up for us, eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    ref #194 Obamacare is anti business, these people actually know something about the economy unlike Obama.

    When his family and every Democrat in congress goes on Obamacare out of their own pocket, than they can lecture the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Re 187 Perhaps if the Republicans were less fundamentalist then he´d talk to them too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    John McDonough's blog Health Stew re Obamacare issues is good http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/health_stew/2013/09/post_3.html

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    @ 112 “Obamacare is anti-American-business.” More Goebbelsian agitprop from the FOX/GOP/TEA/NRA/ Propaganda Ministry, where T=F, F=T and right =wrong. The truth is, it is unreasonably expensive in order to guarantee profits to the health and pharma industries. How un-American is it to put corporate profits ahead of all else? It is totally GOP-America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    It isn't really "Obama"- care. I like this slideshow of the US presidents' campaigns for health care reform back to 1900. http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/sotu

    Somebody is going to have to revise it to a single pay system "Somebody, SOMEBODY Has to, you see. Then she picked out two Somebodies. Sally and me."

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    186. sieuarlu

    Ones either for the US or not,I want to see a US in credit,not on credit.
    A strong US that said it would help any friend, oppose any foe & did.
    The US that in the 50`s 60`s 70`s 80`s was the place to look up to & may be live one day.There is some thing that sticks in my gullet reading about bloody China`s,economic miracle after they killed so many of their own. Ahh I`m going to bed

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    RE 107 "Obama ...refused to listen to [GOP] ideas" This is the kind of Goebbelsian false information peddled on The FOX Propaganda Channel.
    Obamacare is Romneycare, leftist Democrats are angry because it is based on GOP ideas and ditched single payer. How dumb does one have to be to think Romney is a Democrat or that Obama didn't listen to Republicans when opting for mostly THEIR ideas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    At 187, yet the Republicans seem it fit for some American to have health care whilst other don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    The European welfare state model has failed Barroso and Draghi not withstanding.Yet this is what many Europeans would have the US emulate. No thanks.We knew instinctively it would fail we don't need to repeat Europe's blunders.

    187 Before Obama can talk to the Republicans they'll have to talk to each other. There seems to be a war going on among them now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    184. McJakome

    Its good when detail is given.Would a NHS type of system ever work?The US has a massive military from all over the US that's second to none & works.I feel if that NHS system was adopted by Americans it would be soon better ours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    So the Obama will talk to the President of Iran but not to the Republicans

    who is the one who refuse to consider the American people's needs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    182 Last time we went thought a threat to not raise the debt ceiling US Treasury Bonds were downgraded by one of the agencies, I think Moody's or DJ but interest rates went down indicating markets had even more confidence in US government credit. The theory is that the US economy still drives the world and if the US economy fails there won't be anything else left that matters.But it won't fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    85. PhamNuwen In their view, It is not the government's responsibility to: "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." that is meaningless, just like the part of Amd. 2 that they dislike. They're cherry pickers in govt & religion!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    68. Griff There are a few problems with your understanding:
    1 scale, the US is far larger and far more populous than the UK.
    2 population, on the whole is far more diverse and less united & uniform than the UK
    3 political structure, the US is more like 50 semi-independent countries than one country. The US is not centralized and the national government is limited, as opposed to Parliament,

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    #179 Magic

    "The majority of Israel and the Jewish people have no problem with Germany just with their sucessors the islamists.

    And Jews with Israel -- since 1948



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