President Obama and Senate Democrats seized on comments made by Rep. Marlin Stutzman Thursday to accuse Republicans of using the government shutdown for political purposes.
Stutzman on Wednesday told the Washington Examiner, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
Obama mocked Stutzman, R-Ind., in an appearance in Maryland on Thursday, saying, "If you're being disrespected, it's because of that attitude you've got — that you deserve to get something just for doing your job."
Senate Democrats joined the fray.
"You can't fall for that legislative blackmail or it will get worse and worse and worse," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
But Stutzman's point was that Republicans needed to stand firm on the government shutdown to preserve their negotiating position in the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling. And even as Democrats mocked Stutzman, they indicated that they were taking a very similar position: They would take a hardline on the government shutdown to preserve their negotiating position on the debt ceiling.
“If we were to give in, while the government is shut, to a demand, what do you think happens on the debt ceiling?” Schumer said. “What do you think happens when the [government spending bill] has to be renewed? The hard Right says, 'See, by holding a gun to their heads, we got something we wanted. We'll up the ante this time.'"
Schumer, when asked how his position differed substantively from the one Stutzman took a day earlier, said the difference was Democrats were not leveraging a government shutdown, now in its third day, to extract concessions from the Republicans.
“We could do that,” Schumer said. “We could do that on the farm bill; we could do that on so many things we cared about; we could have done it on the Iraq war, so it’s the method — and they’re doing it on both.”
Schumer added, "If one guy has a gun to your head and you say please don’t shoot, you’re saying the two sides are the same?”
Meanwhile, Stutzman on Thursday released a statement clarifying his original remarks.
“Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people. Despite my remarks, it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis, and stop Obamacare’s pain.”