Obama calls impact of government shutdown 'heartbreaking'

WASHINGTON Sat Oct 5, 2013 1:16pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Vice President Joe Biden (2nd L) talk to reporters before ordering at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Vice President Joe Biden (2nd L) talk to reporters before ordering at a sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, October 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saying the U.S. government shutdown was having a "heartbreaking" impact on ordinary Americans, President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his call on congressional Republicans to end the five-day stalemate and pass a funding bill without conditions.

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

In his weekly radio address, Obama ratcheted up the pressure on Republicans, describing the toll the shutdown was having on several people who had either lost access to government services or been temporarily displaced from their jobs.

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

"I am extremely concerned for the welfare of these children," Obama quoted Mumper as saying in a letter she wrote him.

Obama recounted another story about Julia Pruden, a North Dakota woman who said she wouldn't get a loan to buy a house under a Department of Agriculture rural development program in the event of a government shutdown.

"These are just a few of the many heartbreaking letters I've gotten from them in the past couple weeks - including more than 30,000 over the past few days," he said. "I know that Republicans in the House of Representatives are hearing the same kinds of stories."

The standoff, which began at the start of the new fiscal year on Tuesday and shuttered all but essential government operations, is the latest in a series of budget standoffs between Obama and congressional Republicans.

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

Republicans argue that the law is a massive government intrusion into private medicine that will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket.

Obama and his fellow Democrats vow that they will make no such concessions in exchange for an agreement to reopen the government. A meeting between Obama and congressional leaders from both parties on Wednesday saw neither side budge.

Republicans are also seeking concessions in exchange for raising the nation's $16.7 trillion debt limit, which is due to be reached October 17. If the borrowing cap is not increased, the United States will go into default, with what officials and economists say would be seriously damaging consequences for the U.S. and global economies.

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

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

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Paul Simao)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (27)
unionwv wrote:
What’s “heartbreaking” is POTUS resolute drive to make the most personal and previously local human affairs subject to central governmental control.

Oct 05, 2013 8:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ChangeWhat wrote:
“Republicans in the House of Representatives have held firm in their refusal to fund and reopen the government until Democrats agree to delay implementation of Obama’s landmark 2010 healthcare law, also known as Obamacare.”

Ok, no problem bohner and company. How you are you guys going to give health insurance to all the millions of american taxpayers whom can’t afford the highway robbery prices your corporate buddies charge? Or the corrupt payscale system the health insurance companies abide by? Come on you republican dimwits what’s the answer??? I know people whom have worked hard their entire lives and can’t afford health insurance from our private thievery system, that’s fair? It’s fair if i’m an illegal immigrant right now and I need emergency medical care or medical care i get it for free on the American taxpayer? Come on what’s the deal republicannots, what are you going to for the uninsured in the new millennium?

Oct 05, 2013 10:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Des3Maisons wrote:
A few massively rich One Percenters fund the Tea Party extremists and plan to run Ted Cruz for president in 2016. This is who they are:

•Corporate billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch (front group Americans for Prosperity)
•Venture capitalist and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel (front group Club for Growth)
•Leverage-buyout specialist John Childs (front group Club for Growth)
•Investor Howie Rich (front group Club for Growth)
•Executives of JPMorgan (front group Club for Growth)
•Crow Holdings’ Harlan Crow (front group FreedomWorks)
•Shipping magnate Richard Uihlein (front group FreedomWorks)
•Investment banker Foster Friess (front group FreedomWorks)
•Executives of MetLife (front group FreedomWorks)
•Philip Morris (front group FreedomWorks)
•Foundations controlled by the Scaife family (front group FreedomWorks)

Oct 05, 2013 10:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.