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Obama Open to Negotiation, But Only If Government Reopens, Debt Ceiling Increases

WI Web Staff | 10/8/2013, 4 p.m.
President Obama speaks during a press conference at the White House on Oct. 8.

President Obama said Tuesday he told House Speaker John Boehner he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on a short-term agreement to end the eight-day-old shutdown, but he will not buckle under attempts of "extortion" by the GOP and will only talk after the federal government reopens and the debt ceiling is raised.

Obama, speaking to reporters for more than an hour at the White House, said he called Boehner a few hours earlier and urged him to hold votes immediately to end the partial government shutdown and raise the nation's debt ceiling.

"We can't make extortion routine" in democracy, he said. "We're not going to pay a ransom for America to pay its bills."

The president raised the possibility of a short-term deal for both the debt ceiling and a spending bill in order to keep the government running while more permanent deals are negotiated. He warned that not increasing the debt ceiling by the Treasury Department's Oct. 17 deadline would have dire consequences.

"There is no magic wand that allows us to wish away the chaos that could result if — for the first time in our history — we don't pay our bills on time," he said.