POTUS Weekly Column – President Obama attempts to avert US default, meets with Republicans


POTUS Column Photo LabeledOctober 14, 2013
Lauren Staehle
News Writer

President Obama continued discussions with Republicans and Democrats this week, hoping to reach a resolution, which would prevent the need to default on the nation’s bills. The president and many Democrats have continuously said that they will not negotiate on certain issues, like Obamacare, until the government is reopened, and the debt ceiling is lifted. A glimpse of progress was seen this week as Republicans proposed a short-term raise of the nation’s borrowing limit, but it is unclear as to whether that will lead to any significant improvement in the congressional gridlock.

President Obama started the week with a visit to FEMA at the National Response Coordinating Center on Monday. He thanked workers who came in to monitor tropical storm Karen ,despite being furloughed due to the government shutdown. “I want to thank Craig Fugate and his entire team, and the incredible workers who are here at FEMA,” said the president. “They are having to, under less than optimal situations, still respond to Mother Nature, which doesn’t stop just because the government has shut down.” He went on to commend the work that FEMA has done to prepare various parts of the country for potential natural disasters. “I think it’s important to understand that the people here at FEMA have been doing everything they can to respond to potential events,” he said. “ Here at FEMA, they’re in touch with their state and local partners in case resources are needed.  FEMA remains prepared for natural disasters year around, with supplies pre-positioned in distribution centers across the country.”

On Tuesday, the president held the first White House press conference since August. He appeared calm and collected given the situation, and stated, “I am eager to take your questions.” President Obama spoke about his conversation with House Speaker John Boehner, which occurred earlier in the day. “I told him what I’ve been saying publicly, that I am happy to talk with him and other Republicans about anything — not just issues I think are important, but also issues that they think are important,” he said. “But 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.”

He emphasized Democrats’ willingness to talk further with Republicans, saying: “I think not only the White House, but also Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House have shown more than ample willingness to talk about any issues that the Republicans are concerned about.  But we can’t do it if the entire basis of the Republican strategy is, we’re going to shut down the government or cause economic chaos if we don’t get 100 percent of what we want.”

On Wednesday, President Obama announced his nominee for chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen. Yellen would replace current leader Ben Bernanke. President Obama explained that Yellen “is renowned for her good judgment.  She sounded the alarm early about the housing bubble, about excesses in the financial sector, and about the risks of a major recession.  She doesn’t have a crystal ball, but what she does have is a keen understanding about how markets and the economy work — not just in theory but also in the real world.  And she calls it like she sees it.” He added that she is a “proven leader and she’s tough… not just because she’s from Brooklyn.” Dr. Yellen responded: “I’m honored and humbled by the faith that you’ve placed in me.  If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do my utmost to keep that trust and meet the great responsibilities that Congress has entrusted to the Federal Reserve — to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and a strong and stable financial system.”

Later in the day, President Obama met with the House Democratic Caucus, emphasizing the need to continue the fight for the middle class, and to reach a budget agreement that would promote job growth.  Thursday was another day of meetings, first with Senate Democrats and then with House Republicans. However, neither meeting resulted in any major decisions.

Friday began with a meeting with Senate Republicans, then President Obama met with a group of small business leaders from across the country. He focused on the impact of the government shutdown on their businesses, and addressed their individual concerns. Among the represented businesses were the Chesapeake Bay Candle Co., Siluria Technologies, Partec Consulting Group and Smartfurniture.com.

While the week was full of discussions between the President, Democrats and Republicans, little headway was actually made in reaching an agreement that suits both sides. The president will continue to meet with leaders and those impacted by the shutdown next week, and he is already being briefed every day on the effects of the lack of appropriations for various parts of the government. The pressure that President Obama is under intensifies with every additional minute that the government is closed, but as the nation saw in his press conference, he is facing the challenge with presidential grace.



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