Obama On Washington Gridlock: "The Buck Stops With Me"

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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Nobody knows better than you that it is a big part of the job of the president to make that happen. How much of the lack of action in Washington do you put on yourself, in terms of blame?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, ultimately, the buck stops with me. And so any time we are not moving forward on things that should be simple, I get frustrated. And, you know, I've said before -- and I continue to say -- you know, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get Congress -- and Republicans in Congress in particular -- to think less about politics and party and think more about what's good for the country.

There is nobody out there who thinks that us not paying bills we've already racked up is good for the economy, is appropriate, that America losing its reputation and the full faith and credit of the United States would somehow improve the prospects of working families or businesses around the country. Nobody thinks that. So why are we even talking about? Why aren't we just getting that done?

When it comes to the budget, we know that we shouldn't be cutting more on core investments like education that are going to help us grow in the future. And we've already seen the deficit cut in half. It's going down faster than any time in the last 60 years. So why would we make more cuts in education, more cuts in basic research? Nobody thinks that's a good idea.

And then, finally, now what we've got is Republicans talking about the idea that they would shut down the government -- bad for the economy, bad for not just people who work for the government, but all the contractors who -- and the defense folks and everybody who is impacted by the services that they receive from the federal government, we should shut that down, because Republicans, after having taken 40 votes to try to get rid of Obamacare, see this as their last gasp.

Nobody thinks that's good for the middle class. So the question is ultimately, if you are putting the American people first, if you are prioritizing them, then this shouldn't be that difficult. And I've made this argument to my Republican friends privately, and, by the way, sometimes they say to me privately, "I agree with you, but I'm worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the Tea Party back in my district," or, "I'm worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio. And so you got to understand, I'm -- it's really difficult."

Well, you know what? I can't force these folks to do what's right for the American people, because they're independently elected, it's a separate branch of government, and I don't have a vote in Congress. But what I sure as heck can do is stay focused on what I know will be good for the American people.

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