An angry President Barack Obama ripped into Republicans for failing to end the sequester and for even considering holding the government hostage over Obamacare.
During a speech marking five years from the fiscal crisis in 2008, the president said he hoped Republicans would focus on his middle-class agenda.
“I am still hoping that a light bulb goes off here,” Obama said.
But, he said, Republican ideas for the economy amount to slashing investment in education, infrastructure and gutting research.
“These aren’t the policies that would grow the economy faster. They’re not the policies that would grow the middle class,” he said. “In fact, they’d do the opposite.”
Obama said the automatic spending cuts from the sequester are hurting economic growth and the GOP should replace them with a balanced plan.
“They should want to get rid of it. It’s irresponsible to keep it in place,” he said.
He also rapped the faction of the GOP that wants to threaten to shut down the government over Obamacare, saying he was unaware in history of a minority faction of one party threatening economic chaos unless they got 100 percent of what they wanted.
The president noted that Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court challenge and has been the law of the land for years.
And he pointed to last year’s presidential election.
“The candidate who called for repeal lost,” he said.
Obama also reiterated his demand for another tax increase in a long-term budget deal.
“The only way to make further, long-term progress on deficit reduction that doesn’t slow growth is with a balanced plan that includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. It’s the only way to do it,” he said.
Obama also repeated his vow not to negotiate over the debt ceiling.
“This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis,” he said. “Let’s stop the threats. Let’s stop the political posturing, Let’s keep our government open.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.