27 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

WASHINGTON - President Obama prepared Wednesday to meet with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders after saying he is "exasperated" by the two-day-old government shutdown.

"Absolutely, I'm exasperated, because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama told CNBC in an interview that aired 90 minutes before his sit-down with top lawmakers.

Citing a series of budget battles throughout his presidency, Obama told CNBC that "I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party and have purposely kept my rhetoric down."

During the 5:30 p.m. meeting with congressional leaders, Obama is expected to call on House Republicans to pass a new spending plan without any restrictions on the new health care law.

As some GOP members seek to delay or de-fund the health care law as part of a budget deal, Obama said an "extremist wing" of one party should not be allowed to "extort" concessions in way that delays funding for much of the government.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to repeat his call for a one-year delay of some provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

"We're pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "It's unclear why we'd be having this meeting if it's not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties."

A White House official familiar with the president's plans said Obama will urged Boehner and the House to pass a "clean" congressional resolution with no special health care provisions, in order to reopen the government.

Obama also plans to "call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills we have already incurred and avoid devastating consequences on our economy," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting has not yet taken place.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to describe the meeting as a negotiation, calling it instead "a conversation about the essential need to reopen the government."

Boehner will be joined at the White House conference by the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California are also scheduled to attend the meeting.

The partial shutdown of the government began at midnight Monday, when the Republican-run House and Democratic-run Senate failed to agree on a new spending plan.

The House has passed several versions of a spending bill that includes a delay in the health care law; Obama and Senate Democrats say that is unacceptable.

Republicans have called for a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the impasse. Democrats have refused, saying the GOP is trying to use the budget process to gut the new health care law.

Given the refusal, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said, "frankly, we're a little confused as to the purpose of this meeting."

Said Stewart: "If the president wants to sit on the sidelines during this critical debate and is serious about Congress finding a solution, then he will urge Senate Democrats to agree to the request by the House of Representatives to convene a conference committee."

The White House meeting will also preview another looming showdown over the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department says it will hit on Oct. 17.

Without an increase in the debt ceiling, Obama has said the government will be unable to borrow money to repay its obligations, creating a default that will harm the economy worldwide. He also said he will not negotiate with the Republicans over the need to raise the debt ceiling.

In his CNBC interview, Obama said that "when you have a situation in which a faction is willing to potentially default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble."

The president also said that Wall Street should be concerned about both the shutdown and the prospect of a default.

White House spokesman Carney said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will speak with the congressional leaders about the economic damage done by a near-default and debt ceiling breach in August 2011. Back then, House Republicans voted to increase the debt ceiling as part of an overall budget deal.

As for the current shutdown, Carney said the president will not seek any concessions from the Republican leaders; he will only ask them to open the government. "It's quite literally the least they can do," Carney said.

Obama discussed both the debt ceiling and the government shutdown in a mid-day meeting with the Financial Services Forum, a group of CEOs.

Afterward that meeting, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, said it's fine for lawmakers to "litigate" political issues, but the debt ceiling should not be used a "cudgel" to seek concessions.

Failure to pay the nation's bills - default - would roil financial markets worldwide, and damage economic recovery in the United States, Blankfein said.

"There's a precedent for a government shutdown," Blankfein said. "There's no precedent for a default."

27 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wusa9.com/1dw4G4a