Meet the Press   |  October 06, 2013

Lew says Obama administration ‘wants to negotiate’ with Republicans

The Obama administration is ready to negotiate with Republicans over shutdown and debt, Lew says.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you've painted a dire consequence. on the one hand you say it's terrible for the economy to even threaten default. on the other hand, the president saying, i won't negotiate. i won't have any conversation about this. i won't negotiate to stop that from happening. how do you square those two things?

>> to be clear, the president has been and remains prepared to negotiate on fiscal policy . he has spent much of the last three years trying to find the sensible middle ground . he's made offer after offer, negotiation after negotiation --

>> but they said we don't want to have any negotiation until the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is raised.

>> we're where we are because in 2011 , 50 to 100 of the most extreme members of the house changed the rules of the game . they said, we would rather default than have an honorable compromise. it's congress' job to fund the government, and it's congress' job to make sure we can pay our bills. there is nothing here that we're asking for from congress for them to do that. we are happy to negotiate on reasonable policies with entitlement reform and tax reform that closes loopholes.

>> why would they give up their leverage? you're saying give up everything we've agreed to. that's the leverage they have.

>> what would it mean in this country if we're not able to pay millions of people on social security on time? what would it mean if we're not able to pay hospitals through medicare and medicaid on time? there would be liquidity crises on homes and businesses and important institutions. it's just not responsible. it's reckless and irresponsible to say we'll bring all that down if we don't get our way. congress needs to do its job and then we'll negotiate. the president wants to negotiate.

>> is the president ready to watch this country go into default rather than agree with republicans?

>> the republicans know this doesn't have to happen. they could vote today.

>> will he not come to the table at all even with the risk of default?

>> i know republicans and democrats, i don't believe any of them want to default. they need to look at how do they let the majority in congress work their will.