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Obama focuses on military as government shuts down

By John Lederman and Jim Kuhnhenn

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:40 a.m. HST, Oct 01, 2013

WASHINGTON » As much of the federal government grinds to a halt, President Barack Obama is telling the U.S. military he'll push Congress to re-open the government as soon as possible.

In his sole response early today to Congress' failure to avert the first shutdown in nearly two decades, Obama addressed his comments in a video to American troops, rather than the lawmakers he's been scolding for weeks.

There was no reference in the three-minute video message to Republicans, whose insistence that Obama's health care law be scaled back has been at the center of a grueling back-and-forth between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate.

"Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility," Obama said. "It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again."

Troops in uniform in Afghanistan and elsewhere will stay on duty, Obama said, noting he'd signed a law Monday to ensure they get their paychecks on time. That GOP bill began in the House and was taken up by the Senate, reflecting a rare measure of agreement among Democrats and Republicans: No one wants to be blamed for the military not getting paid.

But thousands of civilians who work for the Defense Department face furloughs, compounding the damage already inflicted on the military by automatic spending cuts.

"I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer," Obama said. "You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress."

Hundreds of thousands of government workers will be off the job today after a short work period to wind down operations, but some essential services, including border patrols, air traffic controllers and Social Security benefits, will continue. Meanwhile, it was unclear how long the shutdown would last or how Congress would find a way to agree on restoring funding.

As the shutdown approached hours earlier with Congress gridlocked, Obama called Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, but there was no breakthrough in the budget impasse.

Obama said a "shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away," with hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed and veterans' centers, national parks, most of the space agency and other government operations shuttered.

He blamed House Republicans, whom he accused of seeking to tie government funding to ideological demands, "all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party."

Obama planned to meet today with Americans who will enroll in new insurance exchanges created by his health care law; ironically, implementation of the law and the opening of the exchanges today will proceed despite the shutdown.

The spending fight is a prelude to the bigger confrontation over the nation's credit limit, expected to hit its $16.7 trillion cap in mid-October. Obama on Monday urged Republicans not to saddle the legislation to increase the debt ceiling with measures designed to undermine the health care law. He has vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling, saying that a default would be worse for the economy than a partial government shutdown.

On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to meet with top Wall Street CEOs to discuss the state of the economy, including the debt ceiling. The meeting will be with members of the Financial Services Forum, a trade group representing the 19 biggest financial service institutions doing business in the United States, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup. The Forum joined 250 other business organizations in a letter to Congress on Monday calling on lawmakers to avoid a shutdown, raise the debt ceiling and then address long-term spending issues and deficits.

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false wrote:
Why, does he think the Tea Party is about to declare independence?
on September 30,2013 | 08:29PM
pcman wrote:
Low information test question of the day: When there is a standoff between the House and Senate, who is elected to take the lead to find a compromise? No, the Supreme Court was not elected.
on October 1,2013 | 08:38AM
honomukeiki wrote:
Compromise? The Dems have a unique way of talking about compromise. It is summed up in a statement attributed to a Russian dictator, "What is mine is mine, what is yours is subject to negotiation. I see that Winken, Blinken and Nod (the state's congressional delegation) are shutting down their constituent offices. If this also shuts them up . . . then, perhaps this not a bad thing.
on September 30,2013 | 09:48PM
SteveToo wrote:
Why can't the Democrats "COMPROMISE" and work w/the Republicans? Why does it always have to be the Republicans that have to compromise?????
on September 30,2013 | 09:50PM
Charliegrunt wrote:
BO once made a comment on TV saying, "I'm President of the United States, NOT DICTATOR!", but most of us know he didn't mean it. Why has the Senate NOT passed a budget while he's been president? Why has he been able to spend with NO DEBT LIMIT? Why can he say, "NO NEGOTIATIONS!" and the Republicans get blamed?
on October 1,2013 | 03:51AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Get off the crack, the republicans have been taking hostages all along, with every debt ceiling debaet, every CR, they take a hostage and then complain that the Democrats don't compromise. This time they took the wrong hostage, the Affordable Care Act and tried to get more Democratic "compromises" and when the democrats stood by the Act, the Republicans shot the economy.
on October 1,2013 | 08:53AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Not having served, BO and most of Congress are not focused on the fact that military commissaries are part of the pay package promised to active and reserve military, and military retirees. On the other hand, maybe they do, but don't care. After all they can break bargains unscathed, but should any of the military do that they face court martial charges.
on October 1,2013 | 04:04AM
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