News4's Doreen Gentzler spoke with Pres. Obama in an exclusive interview Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with News4, President Barack Obama said he fully supports the hundreds of thousands of government workers in the District and understands the hardships they're going through.
Nearly 400,000 civilian federal government workers reside in the D.C. metro area and Pres. Obama said he understands how hard they work and care for the country.
"Part of the atmosphere that allowed this shutdown to take place was this attitude that these folks aren’t providing important services and value to our country and they’re dead wrong about that," Obama said. "Those politicians who are always complaining about federal workers ... I guess they’re doing it for political reasons."
He said he has seen the impact of the shutdown firsthand -- seeing younger staff get furloughed and struggle day in and day out.
"There are people who are being impacted every day, and in the D.C. metro region that much more," Obama said. "I’ve got young staff here who are already not getting paid a lot, and now aren’t getting a pay check. All this is personal for me, but really the solution to this is simple."
The President went on to emphasize that in his opinion, the shutdown could end immediately if House Speaker John Boehner allowed a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives to reopen the government.
"You can’t negotiate under anything under the threat that if you don’t get your way 100 percent, you’re going to shut down the government and have the United States government not pay its bills," Obama said. "That is contrary to democracy and how our system is supposed to operate and essentially precludes compromise ... We can’t engage in an extortion game."
He went on to say the approaching debt ceiling should not be swept under the rug amid shutdown talks.
"When I hear Republican congressmen or senators saying this is OK [reaching debt ceiling] … I don’t know where they’re getting that analysis," Obama said. "There isn’t a business person or financial expert or economist who agrees. They think this would be a devastating blow that would have long-lasting effects."