"When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to default on U.S. obligations, then we are in trouble," Obama said.
U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street Thursday. Click here to get the latest futures action.
(Read more: Wall Street wonders: Does Obama want a selloff?)
Late Wednesday, Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell told CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" that Washington is still far from resolving its differences over the fight to reopen the government.
(Read more: Sen. McConnell: White House meeting 'unproductive')
Boehner said Obama reiterated in the meeting with congressional leaders that he would not negotiate. The speaker said he hoped Obama and Democrats in the Senate would have a serious discussion about resolving their differences very soon.
Pelosi said Obama will not use the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to raise the debt ceiling on his own, without congressional approval. A section of the amendment says the public debt of the U.S. "shall not be questioned."
In the CNBC interview, Obama expressed his exasperation with the tea party faction of the Republican party, saying that their reflexive hostility to "civil" negotiation threatens not only the functioning of government, but the wider health of the economy.
"I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say that 20 million people, 'you can't have health insurance, they will not reopen the government.' That is irresponsible," he said.