Obama: I will not negotiate on the debt ceiling

September 16, 2013

President Obama on Monday reiterated that he will not negotiate with Republicans over the debt ceiling and called on them to cede the battle over Obamacare and pass a new budget.

"The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three-and-a-half years now," Obama said in a speech at the White House. "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."

Obama said the still-fragile economy is only threatened by the GOP's threats to potentially allow a government shutdown if Obamacare is funded and to not raise the debt ceiling if it doesn't include more spending cuts. Both battles are set to occur in the coming weeks.

"In case there’s any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations; I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States," Obama said. "Let's stop the threats, stop the political posturing."

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said for months that there would be no negotiations over the debt ceiling and that Republicans need to send Obama a clean bill.

But while Obama said that he won't negotiate on the debt ceiling, he said he will listen to ways to make the government run more efficiently during the budget debate.

Some Republicans have threatened to hold up the funding of the government if Obamacare is funded as a part of it. Other Republicans disagree with that strategy, worrying about the consequences of a potential government shutdown.

Obama said Republicans are effectively holding the government hostage by threatening to defund Obamacare.

“I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos when it doesn’t get everything it wants," he said.

Obama said he agrees that government can be made more efficient, but he said Republicans have deserted that message in favor of using the budget to try and undercut his signature health care law.

"It’s time for those Republicans to step up, and they’ve got to decide what they want to prioritize," Obama said. "Originally, they said they wanted deficit reduction. As I said before, our deficits are falling fast."

Obama also pointed to economic progress being made and the decreasing deficits, suggesting things are on the right track.

But he said the continued struggles have exacerbated the already growing gap between rich and poor.

“Those trends have been made worse by the recession,” Obama said. “That’s what we should be focused on. That’s what I’m focused on.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | September 16, 2013