President Barack Obama meets with small business leaders, including Hester Clark (center), owner of the PR firm the Hester Group, and Marc Parham, Director of the Atlanta Urban League's Entrepreneurship Program, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on October 11, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said the politics involved in the government shutdown and the debt ceiling "isn't how our democracy works, and we have to stop it."
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, the president told listeners he had met in the past few days with members of both parties from both houses of Congress "in an effort to reopen your government and remove the dangers of default from our economy."
"It's a positive development that House Republicans have agreed on the need to avoid the economic consequences of not meeting our country's commitments," he said. "Because once the debt ceiling is raised, and the shutdown is over, there's a lot we can accomplish together."
However, he said "there is no good reason anyone should keep suffering through this shutdown."
"I met with some really innovative small business owners on Friday who've already lost contracts, lost customers, and put hiring on hold -- because the pain of this Republican shutdown has trickled down to their bottom lines," Obama said. "It's hurting the very citizens that our government exists to serve. That's why a growing number of reasonable Republicans say it should end now."
Obama -- who Republicans blame for the shutdown, saying he refuses to negotiate -- said a default would drive up interest rates for everyone, something he said would amount to "a Republican default tax."
"It doesn't have to be this way," he said. "It's not supposed to be this way. Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn't how our democracy works, and we have to stop it.
"Politics is a battle of ideas, but you advance those ideas through elections and legislation -- not extortion."
Obama said although "it's easy to get lost in or give up on the political back-and-forth, I want you to remember: This is not normal."