In his weekly address, the president read from two of the 30,000 letters he said he'd received in the last few days from Americans describing the "real-world consequences" of the shutdown.
President Barack Obama greets people after picking up lunch at the Taylor Gourmet Deli, October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“Take that vote.”
“Stop this farce.”
“Pass a budget.”
“Pay our bills.”
As the government shutdown–and the accompanying blame-game–continued into the weekend, President Obama used his weekly Saturday address to put Republicans on the hot seat. The shutdown is having “real-world consequences,” he said: lost services or delayed benefits; workers “kicked off the job without pay.”
Obama said he’s received more than 30,000 letters in just a few days, and quoted from two of the “heartbreaking” stories that Americans have sent him, saying he wanted to let people hurt by the shutdown “have their say.”
Kelly Mumper lives in rural Alabama. She works in early education, and has three children of her own in the Marines. Here’s what she wrote to me on Wednesday.“Our Head Start agency…was forced to stop providing services on October 1st for over 770 children, and 175 staff were furloughed. I am extremely concerned for the welfare of these children. There are parents who work and who attend school. Where are they leaving their children…is it a safe environment…are [they] getting the food that they receive at their Head Start program?”On the day Julia Pruden’s application to buy a home for her and her special needs children was approved by the USDA’s rural development direct loan program, she wrote me from Minot, North Dakota.“We put in an offer to purchase a home this weekend, and it was accepted…if funding does not go through, our chances of the American Dream [are] down the drain…We have worked really hard to get our credit to be acceptable to purchase a home…if it weren’t for the direct lending program provided by the USDA, we would not qualify to buy the home we found.”
“These are our fellow Americans,” he said. “And I know Republicans in the House of Representatives are hearing the same kinds of stories.”
Obama said there are enough bipartisan votes in the House to pass a budget, but the GOP’s rightwing won’t allow Speaker Boehner to call for a yes-or-no vote.
He said members of Congress “don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away.”
“That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government…or raising the debt ceiling.”
The president reiterated his willingness to work with “anyone of either party…but not under the shadow of these threats to our economy.”