Obama blames House GOP for imminent shutdown

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

President Obama blamed an imminent government shutdown on House Republicans Monday, and said he will push forward with his health care plan "is moving forward" despite GOP efforts to de-fund it.

"You can't shut it down," Obama told reporters at the White House.

Accusing the Republicans of trying to re-fight last year's election and the health care battles of 2009-10, Obama called delay and de-funding efforts "the height of irresponsibility."

Obama also said a partial shutdown -- which would start at midnight unless there is a late deal -- will have "a very real economic impact on real people right away."

Obama said the shutdown will close federal offices, delay checks, close parks, and damage loan programs.

Meanwhile, Social Security, Medicare, mail, and public safety functions will continue despite the shutdown, Obama said.

"The federal government is America's largest employer," Obama said. "These Americans are our neighbors."

Obama spoke hours after saying he is "not at all resigned" to the possibility that lawmakers will fail to meet a midnight deadline.

Obama also said he would talk to members of Congress on Monday and in the days ahead.

Criticizing House Republicans for seeking to de-fund his health care law through the budget process, Obama said halting some government operations would harm economic recovery.

"There's a pretty straightforward solution to this," Obama told reporters after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "If you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long term here, what it simply requires is everybody to act responsibly and do what's right for the American people."

If Congress and the White House do not agree on a temporary spending plan, major parts of the government will shut down when the fiscal year expires at midnight.

House Republicans passed a plan over the weekend that would delay the Obama health care plan for a year -- Obama and members of the Democratic-run Senate say that is unacceptable.

The president proposed that House Republicans pass a Senate-cleared temporary spending bill with no conditions, and that the parties negotiate long-term budget issues -- including an increase in the debt ceiling, which the government expects to hit on Oct. 17.

Obama did not specify whether he would meet with lawmakers in person on Monday, or speak to them over the phone.

Beyond the budget dispute is the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. Obama said that, without an increase, the government faces the prospect of a first-ever default on existing bills.

Obama said lawmakers should "sit down in good faith without threatening to harm women and veterans and children with a government shutdown, and certainly we can't have any kind of meaningful negotiations under the cloud of potential default."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Obama administration provided a one-year delay of the heath care law's provision that businesses cover their employees, and has offered other exceptions.
In calling for a one-year delay of the entire law, Boehner said: "We believe that everyone should be treated fairly."


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