President Barack Obama warned a group of America’s leading business executives that another protracted debt ceiling dispute would have disastrous economic consequences, during a Tuesday morning speech to the Business Roundtable.
In his remarks, the president made an explicit attempt to divide the business community from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. “We want to be a consistent partner with you on a whole range of issues,” Obama told the group, which includes the chief executives of several of the largest corporations in the country. “I’m hugely invested in your success. When you succeed…then America can do well also,” he later added.
The president accused “a faction” of the GOP of trying to “extort” him by refusing to raise the nation’s debt limit unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded.
“You have never in the history of the United States seen the threat of not raising the debt ceiling to extort a president or a governing party,” President Obama said.
The president’s speech was a reprisal of his economic address on Monday, which was largely overshadowed by the mass shooting that had struck the U.S. Navy Yard earlier in the day. In both speeches, he noted that the stock market and consumer confidence plunged during the last round of debt ceiling negotiations in 2011, and he reiterated that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans over spending cuts and other budgetary items — but not the debt ceiling.
“What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to make policy,” he insisted.
“I’m tired of it,” the president added. “And I suspect you are too.”
Obama went on to urge the Business Roundtable to “Make sure that you are using your influence in whatever way you can to get back to what used to be called ‘regular order’ around here. Doing things in a way that reflects the genuine messy negotiations of democracy, but do not promise apocalypse every three months.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) disputes the president’s characterization of the Republican position. “No one is threatening default. The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our debt crisis,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. “Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt limit increase, and this time should be no different.” Buck’s statement did not mention the fact that the federal budget deficit has dropped sharply during Obama’s administration.
Still, even as Buck denied that Republicans were threatening default, on Wednesday morning Speaker Boehner went ahead with a plan to require the White House to agree to defund Obamacare and lock in the sequester cuts in order to keep the government running past October 1 — and his top deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), warned that the fight to defund Obamacare “will continue as we negotiate the debt limit with the president and the Senate.”
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