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September 18, 2013

Obama, House Republicans Begin Budget Battle

by Kent Klein

Republicans in the House of Representatives have announced their first move in the battle with President Barack Obama over the U.S. budget. The president took his case to some of the Republicans’ traditional allies.

The top House Republican, Speaker John Boehner, said Wednesday the House will move quickly to pass legislation to allow the U.S. government to continue borrowing money.

Boehner said that legislation, though, will preserve deep, automatic budget cuts made earlier this year, and will overturn Obama’s 2010 health care law, known as Obamacare.  

“We are going to continue to do everything we can to repeal the president’s failed health care law. This week, the House will pass a CR [continuing resolution] that locks the sequester savings in and defunds Obamacare.”

The bill is likely to pass the House, but the Democratic-controlled Senate is widely expected to remove the provision that would remove funding for health care.

That would return the bill to the House, which could pass it without the health care repeal or force a possible partial government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts October 1.

The president charged Wednesday that Republicans are playing politics with the nation’s economy.

“You have never seen, in the history of the United States, the debt ceiling, or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling, being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt.”

Obama spoke to a group of business leaders, usually a strong Republican constituency, and asked them to use their influence to prevent a budget standoff.

The president said he would not negotiate on the debt ceiling or give in to Republican demands. “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 set policy. It is irresponsible,” said Obama.

Obama’s visit to the Business Roundtable was one of a series of appearances designed to highlight the economic recovery. It comes five years after the collapse of several Wall Street financial firms fueled the country’s economic meltdown.

In that time, the president said, millions of jobs have been created, deficits have been cut, and exports have boomed.

But the top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said that for most Americans, the past five years have felt like anything but a recovery. “It has been a story of lost jobs and underemployment, and the loss of dignity that comes with both. It has been a period of stagnant wages and an increasing disparity between rich and poor,” said McConnell.

The president blamed “a faction” of the Republican Party for the possible budget showdown. Boehner said “there should be no conversation about shutting the government down.”