President Obama warned House Republicans on September 16 that the current stand-off over the federal budget, due to expire at the end of September, would create economic havoc and reverse the progress achieved to this point in pulling the country out of its economic malaise. The president specifically directed his remarks at a group of House Republicans who are promising to shut down the government at the end of the month if they are unable to withhold funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148).
“We've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and we've begun to lay a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity,” said Obama during a press conference marking the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis. “Let's stop the threats. Let's stop the political posturing. Let's keep our government open. Let's pay our bills on time. Let's pass a budget.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio is in the middle of a revolt among some 50 House members. Disagreements within the House Republican caucus over legislation that would temporarily fund the federal government and force the Senate to vote on defunding the PPACA have led to legislative gridlock. Republican leaders on September 11 found themselves short of votes and were forced to pull from consideration on the House floor a continuing resolution bill that would have kept the federal government operating for the first three months of the new fiscal year beginning on October 1 (TAXDAY, 2013/09/12, C.1).
Faced with a restive caucus, Boehner released a statement accusing Obama of playing partisan politics in his speech and called on the president to work with Republicans “to delay his health care law for everyone—just as he's done for big businesses—expand energy production, simplify our tax code and more.”
Obama defended his health care law, claiming that there is no real evidence that the PPACA is holding back economic growth. “I will never convince some Republicans about the merits of “Obamacare.” I understand that. And, I'm more than willing to work with them where they've got specific suggestions that they can show will make our health care system work better,” said the president. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act, making sure that 30-million people don't get health insurance and people with pre-existing conditions continue to be locked out of the health insurance market, that's not an agenda for economic growth,” said Obama.
The president also chided Republicans on the issue of tax reform, saying that they have yet to put out any realistic ideas for fixing the tax code after saying less than three months ago that tax reform was one of their top priorities. “I put forward a plan that serious people in both parties should be able to support: a deal that lowers the corporate tax rate for businesses and manufacturers. Haven't heard back from them yet,” said the president.
By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff