POLITICS
09/20/2013 03:29 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2013

Obama Slams Republicans For Risking Government Shutdown Over Defunding Obamacare

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama tore into Republicans on Friday for risking a government shutdown -- and a possible debt default -- in their latest efforts to sink Obamacare.

During a campaign-style speech in Liberty, Mo., the president took aim at House Republicans for, hours earlier, passing legislation that would keep the government funded past Oct. 1 but would also defund the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans are also planning another vote next week on legislation that would tie a one-year delay in Obama's signature health care law to raising the debt ceiling.

"The debate that's going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping middle-class families," Obama said. "They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me. They're not focused on you."

A government shutdown is "not abstract," he continued. Hundreds of thousands of people won't be allowed to go to work, he said, paychecks won't go out on time to people -- including those in the military overseas -- and small businesses won't get their loans processed. Meanwhile, if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling, that means the nation will default on its debt obligations to other countries, which could trigger another financial crisis, he said.

"Basically, America becomes a deadbeat," he said, wondering aloud why it seems like Republicans pick a fight "every six months" when it comes time to fund the government or raise the debt ceiling. While some Republicans may not like the Affordable Care Act, Obama noted it has been in law for three years, passed both chambers of Congress and was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.

"You don't have to threaten to blow the whole thing up just because you don't get your way," he said to cheers.

Obama pinned blame on "a faction on the far right of the Republican Party" for risking a government shutdown over another attempt at doing away with Obamacare. He noted that some Republicans have said what a bad idea it is to mess with a possible shutdown or a debt default.

"One Republican senator called shutting down the government over the Affordable Care Act 'the dumbest idea I've ever heard,'" said the president, referring to recent comments by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Another top Republican has also warned in the past about risking a debt default.

"It would send the economy into a tailspin," Obama said. "You know who said that? The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner."

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