Bob Woodward hits GOP over 'blackmail'
By: Tal Kopan
September 30, 2013 07:37 AM EDT
Bob Woodward said Monday that one word describes what’s happening over the federal budget: “Blackmail.”
“Let’s call it what it is, they are trying to blackmail the president and say, ‘Look, we’re going to shut down the government or default on our debt unless you — we go back, rewind the clock, on Obamacare and delay it or somehow cut off the funding,’” the longtime Washington Post journalist said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “You can’t govern that way. It will not work. It will be exposed.”
Woodward said House Speaker John Boehner is in an especially tough position as a wing of his party continues to push for the Republican House to pass government funding bills that chip away at Obamacare, which the Senate and president have said are nonstarters.
“I think his head is spinning. He really is at one of these very difficult moments where he’s got to balance the forces and they’re arrayed against him,” Woodward said.
Still, President Barack Obama has to engage with his opponents, Woodward said, because whatever happens will ultimately be attached to his presidency.
“There is something the president could be doing. He said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling, a reasonable position. ‘I will not be blackmailed,’ he said. But he should be talking,” Woodward said. “If there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could happen here that’s bad, it’s going to be on his head. The history books are going to say, we had an economic calamity in the presidency of Barack Obama.”
Woodward, who wrote “The Price of Politics” about the 2011 showdown over the federal debt ceiling, called the lack of talks “baffling.”
“Go back to the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I’ll bet no one can name who was the speaker of the House at the time. Henry Thomas Rainey. He’s not in the history books: It’s on the president’s head. He’s got to lead. He’s got to talk. And the absence of discussion here, I think, is a baffling element,” Woodward said.
Over the weekend, after the Senate rejected a House-passed bill that funded the government but defunded Obamacare entirely, the House passed a new temporary government spending bill that delays the individual mandate for a year. The Senate, which comes back into session Monday afternoon, is expected to reject that bill as well and Obama has threatened to veto it.
Government funding runs out at midnight on Monday.