Democratic leaders are mocking a comment made by U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd District, and saying it’s evidence that Republicans are without direction in a battle over the budget and health care that has led to a partial government shutdown.
Democrats in Indiana and Washington held press conferences to criticize Stutzman’s comments in the Washington Examiner on Wednesday, where he said, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
And President Barack Obama repeated the quote – although he didn’t call Stutzman by name – to employees at a construction company in Rockville, Md. as he said Republicans are just trying to find a way out of the standoff.
“You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people,” he said in response to Stutzman’s comment. “There is no higher honor than that. You’ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one, workers like these. So the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it.”
Earlier, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody had responded to Stutzman’s comments by saying it’s time for Indiana’s state and federal leadership to stop “holding our economy recovery hostage.”
And Michael Czin, Democratic National Committee press secretary who was on the conference call with Zody, said it’s dangerous to delay ending the shutdown. He said it’s startling that Stutzman and other congressional Republicans don’t know what they want to get out of the shutdown.
“It’s disappointing,” Czin said. “It’s perplexing.”
Stutzman issued a statement on Thursday, saying that he had “carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate” and the GOP’s efforts to negotiate on the budget and federal health care law.
“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,” Stutzman said.
But Obama told his audience Thursday that Republicans were being irresponsible. The president compared the Stutzman situation to a worker at the company stopping in the middle of the day, shutting down the plant and then saying he didn’t know what he wanted.
That led someone to shout, “You’d get fired,” which prompted applause from the crowd.
Meanwhile in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democrats displayed a poster of Stutzman’s quote and complained that Republicans don’t know what they want.
On the call with Indiana reporters, Czin said it’s time for the GOP to stop pursuing the defunding of Obamacare and end the shutdown before the country’s economy takes a significant hit.
Zody said it’s disappointing that congressional Republicans are using their constituents’ interests as justification for shutting down the government, pointing to comments made by Stutzman and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th District.
“When they’re saying they’re doing what their constituents want them to do, that needs to be looked at a little further,” Zody said. “We’re not on the right path here. It’s time for people to get back to business.”
Zody said the state party will be pushing to find candidates in the 3rd and 4th Districts – districts that lean heavily Republican – to make sure “that we are communicating, that shows that Democrats are doing what’s best for not only Hoosiers, but across the country, making sure people have the services they need.”
Reach reporter Jessica Wray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.