Business groups frustrated over lack of progress on budget, debt ceiling

While business leaders don't expect Congress to run past the deadline and force a U.S. default, a weekend of talk shows served to reflect the intensity of the gridlock between Republicans and Democrats, increasing the probability that they won't hammer out a deal in time. 

The stock market reflected that uncertainty as the Dow Jones industrial average falling below 15,000, down about 136 points. 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said he will run out of "extraordinary measures" to pay the nation's bills on Oct. 17.

Engler suggested that House and Senate members create a conference committee and get "behind closed doors and get it done."  

"It needs to be resolved, and we have so many challenges on the economic front," Engler said.

On Sunday, Speaker John Boehner suggested that it is President Obama's unwillingness to negotiate that is putting the nation on a path toward default. 

He used an appearance on ABC's "This Week" to urge the president to give him a call and kick-start negotiations.

The president has said he will not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling and has urged Congress to pass a "clean" debt-ceiling increase and do the same for government funding, even if it means short-term measures. 

In the same ABC interview, Boehner said the House does not have the votes to pass either a "clean" stopgap spending measure or raise the debt limit, as the White House is demanding. 

Obama challenged him on Monday to test out his theory to reopen the government.

Meanwhile, the president has passed the negotiating torch to Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) since the two see eye-to-eye on the direction they would like the discussions to take. 

But Boehner reiterated on Sunday that the GOP strategy would still revolve around extracting major concessions, including a bigger shift toward reining in spending and making sweeping changes to the healthcare law. 

Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that while the Chamber understands that the opportunity has been there in the past for lawmakers "to alter the nation’s fiscal course toward more sustainable policies" through a continuing resolution and the debt ceiling increase, of all things, they can't blow past the Oct. 17 deadline and risk default. 

"In the back of forth of legislative wrangling, Congress and the administration should not lose sight of the fact that both the CR and the debt ceiling are and remain must-pass legislation, and that the debt ceiling specifically must pass on a timely basis to avoid inflicting substantial and enduring damage on the U.S. economy," Josten said. 

Engler placed equal blame on Democrats and Republicans for the stalemate, arguing there is no difference between either an unwillingness to negotiate or staking out a position where Democrats only choice is to "agree to repeal your primary legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act."

"Both of those are extreme positions," Engler said. "The reality is, yes, they're going to negotiate as it has always been done in the past."

But he said the House Republican attempt to defund or repeal the president's signature healthcare law through a stopgap spending bill was "just a silly position to have staked out in the first place." 

"You're not going to amend, fix or repeal the healthcare law through this kind of a process," he said. 

"The president ran for reelection defending the law and won his signature achievement in domestic policy he's not going to be forced to somehow repeal it."

Engler said that while it is fine to stake out a tough position, congressional leaders can't be pushed into a negotiating corner by small factions of its party and that leadership has an "obligation to to act on behalf of the country." 

"No party controls Washington by itself today."

Despite the gulf in negotiating tactics, he said the expression Boehner and Obama have been clear about avoiding a default.  

Business groups have long expressed their frustration about the creation of unnecessary fiscal fights that have created steady uncertainty for the past several years coming out of the recession and have cost the economy growth and jobs. 

"They feel frustrated to the Nth degree," Engler said.

"We've jokingly said that even though no one elected us, if you want us to solve it we'd be happy to do that — it would take an afternoon."