(Washington, DC) -- One week into the partial shutdown of the federal government, President Obama is digging in his heels. In a White House news conference, the President said he is willing to negotiate with House Republicans but not until they agree to end the shutdown and raise the federal debt ceiling.
The U.S. government faces possible default if the debt ceiling is not raised by October 17th. Obama argued, "We can't make extortion routine as part of our democracy." He called the shutdown a "manufactured crisis."
Obama insisted that Congress has an obligation to fund government operations and prevent defaults. He said the debt ceiling does not add a dime to the federal deficit. Obama stressed that boosting the debt limit allows the government to pay bills that Congress has already racked up. He noted that the debt ceiling has been raised 45 times since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
The President insisted that Republican lawmakers will not be allowed to demand a "ransom in exchange for doing their jobs." Democrats have accused House Republicans of holding the government hostage in an ongoing effort to repeal, defund or delay the healthcare reform law.
In an earlier news conference, GOP House Speaker John Boehner said he has not drawn any "lines in the sand" and again called on the President to sit down and negotiate an end to the impasse. Boehner insists that House Republicans will not agree to hike the debt ceiling without getting undefined "concessions" from Democrats.
Parts of the federal government were forced to shut down last week as money ran out of money at the end of the 2013 fiscal year. House Republicans have repeatedly refused Democratic calls to extend government funding with a clean bill that contains no unrelated add-ons.