Speaking from the White House press briefing room on Friday, President Obama said that the United States Congress has two responsibilities – “[passing a] budget on time and [paying] our bills on time” — and that it was now up to House Republicans to finish the job the upper chamber started this afternoon.
Indeed, he said, the U.S. Senate “acted responsibly” today by passing a continuing resolution that would fund the government through November, ensuring that vital government services remain open to the public. But so far, he added, “Republicans have refused to move forward” on a serious spending proposal. That is, one that doesn’t cut funding from his signature legislative achievement: Obamacare.
He quickly speculated why that was the case.
“[The] House Republicans are so concerned with appeasing the Tea Party,” he breathlessly claimed, that they are putting their own political interests ahead of the interests of their constituents. He urged House Republicans even thinking about forcing a government shutdown to reconsider; after all, they could very well harm their own staffers — all of whom would lose their paychecks if Congress can’t broker an agreement by next Monday.
At the same time, President Obama also touted the supposed benefits of Obamacare, which he described as “a done deal.”
“More than 100 million Americans currently already have new benefits and protections under the law,” he said, “On Tuesday, about 40 million more Americans will be able to finally buy quality affordable health care just like anybody else.” He added that if Republicans have specific proposals to “improve the law” — rather than, say, delay or repeal it — he’d be open to the idea. But for now, Obamacare, in his view, is settled law.
Notably, too, Obama asserted that Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has “nothing to do with [the deficit].” He didn’t mention, of course, that Obamacare is projected to add trillions of dollars to the long-term national deficit, according to the Government Accountability Office, and it is at least one reason why Congressional Republicans want it repealed.
Finally, turning to the impending debt ceiling fight, he said that Republicans who vote to allow the government to borrow more money wouldn’t actually be granting “a concession to me.” In fact, he said, agreeing to raise the debt ceiling is “simply carrying out the solemn [responsibility]” of holding office.
Plus, he continued, the Treasury has a moral responsibility to pay its bills.
“There will be differences between Democrats and Republicans,” he warned. “But do not threaten to burn the house down because you haven’t got 100 percent” of what you wanted he cautioned Republicans.
This isn’t how “democracy’s supposed to work,” he said