Obama blames GOP in local TV interviews

President Obama looked to amp up pressure on congressional Republicans in a series of local television interviews on the government shutdown Wednesday night.

The president conducted short interviews with reporters from Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Tampa, Fla.; and Richmond, Va. — four cities with high percentages of government workers and contractors.


In the interviews, the president accused Republican leaders of shutting down the government "in order to have a negotiation."

"Nobody's explained to me so far why you have to shutdown the government to have a negotiation, and nobody's explained to me so far why you have to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States in order to have a negotiation," Obama told the Tampa NBC affiliate.

He also said the nation "shouldn't even be considering" breaching the debt ceiling, despite some Republicans who have suggested that the Treasury Department could avoid defaulting on its debts.

"There isn't a business person or financial expert or economist who agrees," Obama told the Washington NBC affiliate. "They think this would be a devastating blow that would have long lasting effects."

In multiple interviews, Obama defended himself after reports that death benefits would not be paid to the survivors of service members killed in battle. On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation to provide the payments until the government reopens.

Asked if he was sorry about what had happened regarding death benefits, the president said the issue would be resolved Wednesday and said that the nation "should have never been here in the first place."

"The theory that we should shutdown the government as a negotiation tactic should never have been done in the first place, and it does a disservice to all the men and women in uniform and all those veterans who sacrificed for our freedom," Obama said.

The president also defended the rollout of the ObamaCare exchanges, which have been plagued by technical problems.

"The volume frankly exceeded even the highest expectations that we had, and that's part of what created some of these glitches in the system," Obama said.

He also told the Richmond CBS station that ObamaCare was not responsible for employers reducing hours or getting rid of employees' health care. The president implied that some firms were using the law as a cover for practices that had been going on "for a very long time."

"A lot of this stuff has been happening for the last several years that doesn't have to do with the Affordable Care Act," Obama said.

ObamaCare creates a marketplace for those who lose or do not have coverage, he said.