President Obama slammed House Republicans today for promising economic chaos unless he gives them 100% of what they want.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: These folks standing behind me, these are people who are small business owners, people who almost lost their home, young people trying to get a college education, and all of them went through some real tough times during the recession. And in part because of the steps we took, and primarily because of their courage and determination and hard work, they’re in a better place now.
But the last thing they’re looking for is for us to go back to the same kind of crisis situations that we’ve had in the past. And the single most important thing we can do to prevent that is for Congress to pass a budget, without drama, that puts us on a sound path for growth, jobs, better wages, better incomes.
Now, look, it’s never been easy to get 535 people here in Washington to agree on anything. And budget battles and debates, those are as old as the Republic. It’s even harder when you have divided government. And right now you’ve got Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, Democrats controlling the Senate, Democrat in the White House. So this is always going to be tough.
Having said that, I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants. That’s never happened before. But that’s what’s happening right now.
You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can’t shut down the Affordable Care Act. And if that scheme doesn’t work, some have suggested they won’t pay the very bills that Congress has already run up, which would cause America to default on its debt for the first time in our history and would create massive economic turmoil. Interest rates on ordinary people would shoot up. Those kinds of actions are the kinds of actions that we don’t need.
The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011 even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth. Everybody here remembers that. It wasn’t that long ago.
Now, keep in mind, initially, the whole argument was we’re going to do this because we want to reduce our debt. That doesn’t seem to be the focus now. Now the focus is on Obamacare. So let’s put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three and a half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year’s election and the candidate who called for repeal lost. (Applause.) Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They’ve failed every time.
Meanwhile, the law has already helped millions of Americans — young people who were able to stay on their parents’ plan up until the age of 26; seniors who are getting additional discounts on their prescription drugs; ordinary families and small businesses that are getting rebates from insurance companies because now insurance companies have to actually spend money on people’s care instead of on administrative costs and CEO bonuses.
President Obama accurately pointed out that there is no true main objective behind the Republican threats. House Republicans keep moving the goalposts based on whatever wild flight of fancy that they feel like going on. Sometimes they claim the debt ceiling is about the debt. When they feel like they want spending cuts, Republicans claim the debt ceiling is about the government spending too much money. Now, House Republicans are claiming that the debt ceiling is about Obamacare.
Depending on which House Republican is speaking, it is possible to hear all three of these excuses on the same day. Sometimes, they’ll even use them all at the same time.
House Republicans are throwing a temper tantrum and threatening to blow up the economy if President Obama doesn’t stop acting so much like a president. The message that the president has been sending to House Republicans over the last two days is no. Obama is not going to delay Obamacare, and deny 30 million Americans access to healthcare. The president is not going to let Republicans undo a law that is already helping millions of Americans.
Republicans aren’t going to win this staring contest with the president, because the 2014 election is coming. If House Republicans want to keep their seats, they’re going to have to blink.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association