Government reopens after 16-day shutdown; Obama accuses Republicans of damaging U.S. economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In withering day-after criticism, President Barack Obama declared Thursday that the 16-day partial government shutdown was a Republican-provoked spectacle that "encouraged our enemies" around the world.

Elsewhere in Washington, and around the country, federal employees simply streamed back to their jobs. National parks reopened. The popular panda cam at the National Zoo came back online.

But there was no letup in the political fight.

Fresh from a defeat, tea party groups and their allies renewed fundraising efforts with a promise of future assaults on Obama's health care overhaul — and a threat of more election primaries against Republican incumbents who don't stand with them.

Government spending was still front and center. Inside the Capitol, lawmakers charged with forging a post-shutdown deficit-cutting agreement in the next 60 days met privately. "We believe there is common ground," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

Privately, however, officials in both parties said the prospects for a major breakthrough were dim, given differences over taxes and spending that have proven compromise-proof throughout the current three-year era of divided government.

A few hours after Obama placed his post-midnight signature on legislation ending the long political showdown, Vice President Joe Biden was at the Environmental Protection Agency to greet returning employees. "I hope this is the end of this," he said, but he acknowledged "There's no guarantees."

That was a reference to the last-minute legislation that will fund the government only until Jan 15 and give Treasury the ability to borrow above the $16.7 trillion limit until Feb. 7 or a few weeks longer.

At the White House, Obama blended sharp criticism of Republicans with a plea for their cooperation over the remainder of the year and a call for less shrillness on both sides.

"Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claimed their actions were needed to get America back on track," he said in remarks in the State Dining Room.

"But probably nothing has done more damage to America's credibility to the world. ... It's encouraged our enemies. It's emboldened our competitors. And it's depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership," he said.

Obama said the public is "completely fed up with Washington" and he and Congress face hard work in regaining trust. It was a reference to public opinion polls that show the nation in a sour mood — though more inclined to blame Republicans than the president and his party for the first partial government shutdown caused by politics in 17 years.

Hoping to jump-start his own stalled agenda, Obama urged lawmakers to concentrate on three items in the coming weeks: a balanced plan to reduce long-term deficits, legislation to overhaul the immigration system and passage of a farm bill.

Polling aside, Obama's party emerged from the three-week showdown in Congress united. All Democrats in Congress supported the legislation that passed Wednesday night to fund the government and raise the debt limit.

Not so of the Republicans. Eighteen GOP members in the Senate and 144 in the House opposed the legislation, while 27 in the Senate and 87 in the House supported it.

The fault line separated tea party adherents from the balance of the rank and file. And there were clear signs the split was enduring, though not widening.

In Mississippi, where GOP Sen. Thad Cochran has not yet announced if he will seek a new term in 2014, the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund were not waiting to find out. They endorsed a potential rival, Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, as he announced his candidacy.

The groups are among several that have played an increasingly active role in Republican primary elections in recent years, several times supporting tea party-aligned challengers. In some cases — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for one — they went on to victory in the fall. In more, they lost seemingly winnable races to Democrats.

One survivor of such a challenge, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said during the day that the Heritage Foundation is in danger of losing its clout as a reliable conservative think tank because of the actions of its political arm, Heritage Action.

In an interview on MSNBC, he said, "There's a real question in the minds of many Republicans now. ... Is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn't amount to anything anymore?"

Heritage Action played an influential role in the two-week political showdown. In the days leading to the impasse, it was a strong backer of the campaign to demand that "Obamacare" be defunded in exchange for Republican approval of funding for the government.

And on Tuesday, as it was hosting a fundraiser at a high-end golf resort in Bandon, Ore., the group weighed in to oppose legislation that House Speaker John Boehner put together in hopes of retaining influence in the final negotiations over the impasse in Washington.

Yet another group, Americans for Limited Government, assailed Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., who voted for the legislation that reopened the government and raised the debt limit. Noting that the measure had not defunded the health care law, the group said the congressman "owns Obamacare just as much as if it had been a vote to adopt it in the first place."

In a statement issued on Wednesday in connection with his vote, Rigell said he was voting for the bill "given the lack of a viable alternative at this moment."

Other Republicans have said for weeks that the strategy of demanding Obama kill off the health care law he won from Congress never had a chance of success.

"This was a terrible idea," Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on CNN of the shutdown. He said it will not happen again when the next deadlines arrive — "I guarantee it."

But in a party divided, there were dissenters.

"Obamacare is still fully intact, out-of-control spending continues, the debt limit is raised without addressing unsustainable spending, and only vague promises are left to address these key issues," the Tea Party Express said in an online fundraising appeal.

Referring to next year's elections, the group said, "To put it plain and simple: We don't have enough conservatives in Congress to stop the irresponsible spending in Washington."

Spending will be the focus for the high-level budget negotiators who began their new assignment Thursday.

"Talking doesn't guarantee success," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, after he met with Democratic Sen. Murray, Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, senior Republican on the Senate committee. But, Van Hollen added, "if you don't get together, obviously you don't move forward."

Associated Press

President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday. Lawmakers Wednesday voted to avoid a financial default and reopen the government after a 16-day partial shutdown.

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Eric  LeBlanc's picture

50 years from now

50 years from now people will be asking why Obama wasn't tried for treason.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Oh please!

Give us your profound analyze of under what Article? Provide us with concrete germane proof of your premonition of your far away attribute.

Bob White's picture

Hey old Man

I missed you at the dinner table last night, your still Jerry "All Talk" Aripez I see. Your all hot air sitting behind a computer screen many miles away.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Give yourself an enema... your mouth will taste better...

Do you still love nature....despite what it did to you?

Bob White's picture



JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Lets see the people speak and the Tbaggers say

– A Quinnipiac poll has 58% opposing Congress cutting off funding for the health care law to stop its implementation.
– Kaiser’s polls have consistently found strong opposition to defunding the health care law. In late September, 56% disapproved of cutting off funding to the ACA.
– CBS / NY Times pollsters found 56% of voters want Congress to uphold the law and make it work as well as possible, compared to just 38% who want to stop it by defunding it.
– AP/ NBC/WSJ poll shows that only 39% support eliminating federal funding for the law while 50% oppose.
– A Gallup recent poll has just 29% want the law repealed, while 64% want it kept as it is, or kept with some changes.
– Tea Party supporters also the Republican strategy was doomed, with a Fox News poll showing that 54% believed that the ACA would remain the law in spite of attempts to defund it.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

McCain, McConnel, Romeny, the ones with experience and more

Said it was a bad idea, the US Chamber of Commerce told them not to do it.....Duh!

EVEN Boehner himself that lost his balls in the hands of tbaggers!.

All said it was a bad idea to go after the ACA...Oops seems the tbaggers are thinking of swinging their bags differently that those that have brains.
----------------------House Speaker John Boehner just wanted to sneak out of the White House for a smoke.

But President Barack Obama pulled him aside for a grilling. Obama wanted to know why they were in the second day of a government shutdown that the speaker had REPEATABLY and PUBLICLY pledged to avoid

“John, what happened?” Obama asked, according to people briefed on the Oct. 2 conversation.
“I got overrun, that’s what happened,” Boehner said.
So you see America; the Tbaggers are out to destroy America for their beliefs and insane attempt to act just like the deceased Whigs, to take out America for their ideologies.

Bob White's picture

Whos the leader

Who the heck is the leader of the United States Of America? I will say Mr. President it is better to use honey then vinegar and remember we have not won anything, all we did was kick the can down the road.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Seems the shoe is on the other foot, Bagger

Seems the Boehner is leaderless in so many ways and so the House should get a make over and send all of those Tbaggers/GOP packing. Then with all of the obstructionism from the GOP/Tbaggers gone, the POTUS can get his work done and lead.

Remember the one guy that the US elected and not just a few redstate Tbaggers nut jobs with throwing wrenches into nominations, SCOTUS upheld laws, holding the country hostage for a shutdown and possible debt ceiling crisis... just little things like that.

You want the Preseident to lead, then your party should STOP electing whack jobs like Bachmann, King, Gophmer, Cruz and letting morons like Palin, Rush, Hannity, Malkin, O` Reilly and Beck spreading the ignorance for those like yourself to believe in.

Just maybe, any elected President can do their job with less idiots like those of the GOP/Tbaggers....

 's picture

What's next.

Let's understand the Republican Position.
1. they want a balanced budget
2. No additional Federal revenues of any kind from any source.

Using 2012 actual expenditures accomplishing this today would require:

Closing: Dept. of Education, Dept. of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Urban development, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, NASA, Transportation, Treasury, Labor, Commerce, Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, National Science Foundation, Small Business Administration.

Open: Social Security, Medicare, and the Pentagon. Oh and Congress.

So Republican "smaller government" policy has been for years to shutdown the Federal Government permanently.

 's picture

$24 billion

The tea bag terrorists cost the economy $24 billion for 16 days of their preening and prancing. Now that's some fiscal conservatism!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

There is more than meets the eye on this GOP induced shutdown

Sure, let's hope that, but the evidence is that House Republicans don't care at all about the damage they are doing, because they seem hellbent on doing far more damage. In its new study, Macro Advisers estimates that the government shutdown has already shaved about 0.3 percent from economic growth in the fourth quarter, consistent with an recent estimate by Goldman Sachs.

A short debt default -- which could be just short days away -- could cause unemployment to spike to 8.5 percent from 7.3 percent and cost 2.5 million jobs, Macro Advisers estimates. A longer default, lasting a couple of months, would cause an even deeper recession, pushing unemployment to 8.9 percent and costing 3.1 million jobs.

And all of this damage would come on top of what has already been done to the economy by Washington's Republican-driven obsession with debt and deficits in the past few years, even as the economy stumbled out of its worst recession since the Great Depression.

What else would you expect

What else would you expect from this President? He's been been blaming Bush for the last 5 years for his dismal record. Since 2009 the national debt has doubled, the number of people on food stamps has doubled. He's turned more jobs from full to partime. Now America gets to pay more money for heathcare through the Affordable Care Act. And the main stream media lets him spin spin spin. America is doomed with this idiot in the Whitehouse, and the Witch Hillary on deck.


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