Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • Obama blasts ‘Republican shutdown,’ defends Obamacare

    President Barack Obama on Tuesday defiantly declared that “this Republican shutdown” risks hurting the fragile economy and pressed the House GOP to abandon its “ideological crusade” against Obamacare.

    “This Republican shutdown did not have to happen,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, surrounded by a dozen Americans who stand to benefit from his landmark health care overhaul.

    “They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” he charged. "This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it's strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is."

    Obama pointed to the last partial government shutdown, in 1996, and warned that a closure will hurt the economy.

    “And we know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be — more families will be hurt, more businesses will be

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  • Poll: Americans reject GOP shutdown strategy

    Hours after the government officially lurched to a partial shutdown, a new poll released Tuesday showed Americans really aren’t crazy about Obamacare — but hate the Republican approach of closing the government in an effort to repeal it.

    The Quinnipiac University national survey found that the public is split on the Affordable Care Act, with 47 percent opposed to it and 45 percent in favor. But Americans, by a lopsided 72-22 percent margin, say shutting down the government is not the answer.

    Would the GOP fare better by refusing to raise the country’s debt ceiling to stop Obamacare? Not much: Americans oppose that approach 64-27 percent.

    That’s likely to cheer the White House, which warns that failing to pay for programs Congress already has approved — the purpose of raising the debt limit — would trigger a default that would send shock waves through the fragile world economy.

    How about cutting off funding needed to implement the law, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy

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  • Obama to troops: You deserve better than dysfunctional Congress

    With America in the grips of its first government shutdown in 17 years, President Barack Obama promised U.S. troops and Defense Department staff early Tuesday that he will fight for them and declared that they "deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress."

    “Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility,” Obama said in a video message broadcast on Armed Forces Television. “It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”

    Obama recorded the address late Monday but was broadcast after the midnight deadline to avert a shutdown. He did not directly blame House Republicans, whose insistence on rolling back his signature health care law as the price for funding the government slammed into Senate Democrats push for a “clean” spending measure.

    “Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status.

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  • Obama: Government shutdown 'entirely preventable' if House GOP drops demands

    Ramping up his attacks on Republicans, President Barack Obama sternly warned Monday that a seemingly inevitable government shutdown just hours away “would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy” and bluntly told the GOP that it can’t stop the law popularly known as Obamacare.

    “You can’t shut it down,” Obama said in the White House briefing room. "No matter what Congress decides to do today, the Affordable Care Act is moving forward."

    So “Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time, and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” he declared. "And time’s running out. My hope and expectation is that — in the 11th hour once again — that Congress will choose to do the right thing — and that the House of Representatives in particular will do the right thing.

    A shutdown could damage the fragile economic recovery, the president said, calling it “the height of irresponsibility."

    “All of this is entirely preventable if the

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  • Obama: ‘Not at all’ resigned to government shutdown

    With a partial government shutdown only hours away, President Barack Obama declared Monday he was “not at all resigned” to that outcome and said he would be speaking “today, tomorrow and the next day” with congressional leaders to avert it.

    “But the only way to do that is for everybody to sit down in good faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a government shutdown,” Obama said as he met in the Oval Office with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    “I am not at all resigned” to a shutdown, he said. “I suspect I will be speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow and the next day.”

    “But there’s a pretty straightforward solution to this. If you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long-term here, what it simply requires is everybody to act responsibly and do what’s right for the American people,” Obama said.

  • Obama has historic call with Iran leader, warns GOP about shutdown

    President Barack Obama announced Friday that he had spoken by telephone with Iran's president Hasan Rouhani — the first direct conversation between leaders of both countries since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979.

    In hastily arranged remarks in the White House briefing room to announce the breakthrough, Obama also sharply scolded congressional Republicans demanding that he agree to roll back Obamacare in return for avoiding a government shutdown or raising America’s debt limit.

    “That’s not going to happen,” the president declared. “Do not threaten to burn the house down simply because you haven’t gotten one hundred percent of your way.”

    That drew a shot from Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office. “Grandstanding from the president, who refuses to even be a part of the process, won’t bring Congress any closer to a resolution,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

    And Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s communications director, Rory Cooper, charged on Twitter that

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  • Obama: Obamacare critics are 'desperate' fat-cat Fox News watchers

    President Barack Obama went nuclear this week in his attacks on Republicans trying to derail the Affordable Care Act, painting the controversial law’s opponents as fat cats who watch too much Fox News. Or freeloaders. Or the Koch Brothers. Or folks who think the Fugitive Slave Act and Obamacare are equally terrible.

    That’s a slight exaggeration. Slight.

    And always-pugnacious senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer took to CNN to compare Republicans to terrorists. And kidnappers. And arsonists.

    Here’s Pfeiffer on CNN’s The Lead :

    “It is not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say give me everything inside or I'm going to burn it down.”


    “The Republicans have provided a laundry list of essentially ransom demands.”


    “What we're not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.”

    That’s some take-no-prisoners stuff, only days before Americans can sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and the government might shut down if congressional

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  • On GOP demands, White House cracks Republican wish list only missing a ‘birther bill'

    The White House on Thursday dismissed Republican demands in return for raising the country’s debt limit as a partisan wish list that is only missing a “birther bill.”

    Press secretary Jay Carney said House Republicans were insisting on “an extraordinary list of Republican perennials” if they vote to increase the government’s ability to borrow.

    “You know, the only thing I didn't see mentioned was, like, a birther bill to attach to it,” Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

    The spokesman’s comments came after House Republicans emerged from an hourlong meeting behind closed doors with a list of demands.

    They sought a one-year delay in Obamacare’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, increased offshore drilling and more spending cuts.

    President Barack Obama and top aides have repeatedly refused to negotiate for the debt ceiling increase, without which the country could default on its obligations. That would send shock waves

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  • Obama won’t shake hands with Iranian president (today)

    President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart, Hasan Rouhani, won’t be sharing a history-making handshake at the United Nations General Assembly this year after all, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

    After days of frenzied will-they-or-won’t-they speculation, the prospects of the first (relatively friendly) face-to-face since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution fell prey to internal politics in Tehran, the officials told pool reporter Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal.

    The White House had proposed “an encounter” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York — something well shy of a formal sit-down meeting. But officials heard back on Tuesday that even a more low-key conversation was “too complicated for Iranians to do at this point,” according to one of the officials.

    The officials — who spoke on condition that they not be identified by name — said Secretary of State John Kerry will go ahead with talks with his Iranian counterpart on resolving the tense standoff over

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  • Obama: U.S. wary but ‘encouraged’ by Iran’s new tone

    President Barack Obama told world leaders gathered in New York on Tuesday that he was “encouraged” by Iran’s new, less confrontational tone and had ordered a new diplomatic push to defuse the volatile standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

    “The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” Obama said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

    “But to succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable,” he said.

    In addition to the Iranian nuclear dispute, the president also vowed to redouble efforts to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

    “While these issues are not the cause of all the region's problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace,” he said.

    And he bluntly warned the United Nations that it must threaten — and enforce — consequences on Syria if President

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