Their second grievance is with Obama, and his steadfast resistance to negotiate with them on any aspect of the health-care law. The president may unilaterally decide to delay this or that part of the measure, as he did again on Thursday with a small portion of the implementation plan. But he doesn’t want Republicans to touch it. Each time he makes a change, his unwillingness to engage only infuriates them more.
The antagonism between Obama and the Republicans was on full display Thursday. House GOP leaders went before the cameras to offer their latest ideas on funding the government, defunding or delaying Obamacare, and dealing with the day next month when the government is set to run out of borrowing authority.
Suddenly it seemed like the summer of 2011 on steroids. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and others seemed to up the ante again in their quest to stop Obamacare and to force the president to yield. Not only did they continue on a path that could lead to a partial government shutdown on Tuesday, they also signaled that they are ready for another confrontation in mid-October over the debt ceiling, with a list of demands for the president.
An hour or so later, Obama responded at an appearance at Prince George’s Community College in Largo. Rather than trying to tamp down on partisan rhetoric or lower temperatures, he did the opposite, repeatedly waving red flags at the Republicans.
He taunted them and ridiculed them. He said they are obsessed with his health-care law and described some of their objections and characterizations as “crazy” talk. “The closer we get [to implementation], the more desperate they get,” he said. “I mean, over the last few weeks the rhetoric has just been cranked up to a place I’ve never seen before.”
He questioned Republicans’ real motivation in seeking to stop it, saying they are more worried about the possibility that it might work than they are by their assertion that it could wreck the country. “If it was as bad as they said it was going to be, then they could just go ahead and let it happen and then everybody would hate it so much, and then everybody would vote to repeal it, and that would be the end of it,” he said. “So what is it that they’re so scared about?”
Obama also was defiant in reasserting that he will not negotiate over raising the federal debt ceiling, as he had told Boehner in a recent telephone call. He said he would not give in to “blackmail” on issues that he said have nothing to do with the budget. “I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” he said to applause. “We’re not going to submit to this kind of total irresponsibility.”