By Justin Sink - 10/08/13 06:44 PM EDT
President Obama said Tuesday he would accept a short-term deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. [WATCH VIDEO]
At a news conference, Obama said he would agree to a deal to allow room for broader negotiations with congressional Republicans.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) swiftly rejected the opening, characterizing it as a demand for “unconditional surrender.”
“What the president said today was, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us,” Boehner said in a brief press conference responding to Obama. “That’s not the way America works.”
The Speaker detailed a history of presidents from Ronald Reagan to Obama himself who negotiated broad deficit-reduction packages.
“The long and the short of it is, there’s going to be a negotiation here,” Boehner said. “It’s time to have that negotiation.”
The president told reporters Tuesday he would "talk about anything" with Republicans if they passed short-term bills to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
But at the same time, the president reiterated that the administration was “not going to pay a ransom.”
“Having such a conversation, talks, negotiations, shouldn't require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the American people,” he said.
The president said that it was unlikely an agreement would be struck until “the more extreme part of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats.”
Obama earlier Tuesday called Boehner to reiterate that he would not negotiate on raising the debt limit and ending the government shutdown.
Boehner told reporters that Democrats had adopted an “untenable position.”
“There's never been a president in our history that did not negotiate over the debt limit. Never. Not once,” Boehner said.
Republicans have sought to score points against Obama by highlighting his unwillingness to speak with them, and on Tuesday they proposed that the House and Senate agree to form a new supercommittee to work out a fiscal deal.
But Obama repeatedly stressed Tuesday he was willing to discuss "anything" — as long as it wasn't tied to a "threat looming over the conversations."
He appeared cool to the idea of a new committee.
"The leaders up in Congress, they can work through whatever processes they want, but the bottom line is either you're having good faith negotiations in which you're having a give and take or you're not," Obama said.
The president said that it appeared the GOP was pursuing a framework for the panel in which Republicans would demand negotiations on areas of the budget that concern them, while eliminating discussion of items like closing corporate tax loopholes that Democrats have demanded.
"I don't know why Democrats right now would agree to a format that takes off the table everything they care about," Obama said.
"They can design whatever formats they want," Obama said. "What is not fair and will not result in an actual deal is ransom taking or hostage taking."
At the press conference, Obama also warned that, as the government approaches the debt ceiling, a default on the nation's bill would be catastrophic for the American economy.
“There would be a significant risk of a very deep recession. ... This is our word. This is our good name. This is real,” Obama said.
The Treasury Department says the borrowing limit must be raised by Oct. 17.
Both parties have been engaged in a deep messaging war in the fiscal fight, and the White House is confident it is winning that battle.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday found Republicans have been hurt politically by the shutdown, while Obama’s rating has actually ticked up.
The poll found that 70 percent disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling the fight. Obama’s level of approval in the fight moved from 41 percent in the Post’s Sept. 25-29 poll to 45 percent now, with more centrist Democrats and Independents backing Obama.
—This story was posted at 2:44 p.m. and updated at 5:03 p.m.