A visibly irritated President Barack Obama urged Congressional Republicans to “move on” from opposition to the Affordable Care Act and pass a bill to keep the government funded, on the first day of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.
Obama’s statement, delivered from the Rose Garden at the White House, came following a meeting with Americans whom the White House says will benefit from the opening of health-insurance marketplaces Tuesday under the Affordable Care Act. It also came on the first day of a government shutdown because of disputes over funding for the health-care law.
“This shutdown is not about deficits. It’s not about budgets. This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it. It’s all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said.
“This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centrepiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.”
Obama hailed the opening of health-insurance exchanges under the new law, and he told stories of the White House attendees who flanked him during his speech. He also noted the irony in the government shutdown that he repeatedly blamed on Republicans — that it “doesn’t accomplish their stated goal” of defunding or making significant changes to Obamacare.
“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” Obama said. “In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.”
There’s no immediate end in sight to the shutdown. On Tuesday morning, the Senate rejected a House motion to go to conference over the continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Senate Democrats pointed to the fact that Republicans have blocked their request for a budget conference 18 times since April, and they said they would only go to conference if the government is reopened.
Obama urged Congress to “stop governing by crisis,” saying it is “not worthy of this country.”
But his remarks also didn’t forecast a foreseeable end. He also previewed the coming fight over the debt ceiling, which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said needs to be raised by Oct. 17. Again, Obama said he wouldn’t negotiate for a debt-ceiling hike, and he urged Congress to “pay your bills.”
“Think about that. If you buy a car and you’ve got a car note, you do not save money by not paying your car note. You’re just a deadbeat,” Obama said.
“If you buy a house, you don’t save money by not authorizing yourself to pay the mortgage. You’re just going to be foreclosed on your home. That’s what this is about.”
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