The budget shutdown blame game continued Friday, with President Barack Obama repeatedly knocking Republicans for talking about using the debt ceiling or spending bills as leverage to end Obamacare in bus tour events more reminiscent of last year’s campaign than this year’s legislative morass.
With Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at his side in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., for the final stop on the two-day bus tour to talk about college affordability, Obama repeated what has become a recurring White House theme in recent weeks. If only those Republicans would stop threatening to shut down the government and agree to pay the nation’s bills that are already racked up, Obama has suggested, the economy would continue to grow and Washington could address some of the other issues piling up.
“We do have a problem, which is we’ve got some of our friends down in Washington — you know it’s not all Republicans but it’s a strong faction ... they’re threatening to shut down the government and have another financial crisis unless, for example, we get rid of the health care reform that we fought to pass and is going to provide millions of people health care security for the first time,” Obama said.
He ripped the GOP as having no ideas and being obsessed with distractions instead of the middle class. “I have not seen a policy coming out of ’em that would actually help ordinary folks,” he said. “And we can’t afford the usual Washington circus of distractions and political posturing and special interests, phony scandals.”
Obama and Biden, both going without ties, appeared relaxed, and Obama even cut a joke at his former rival Mitt Romney’s expense — crediting him though not by name with coming up with the idea for Obamacare.
“It used to be a Republican idea,” Obama said. “There was a governor in Massachusetts who set it up. It’s working really well.”
Republicans remain split over whether to threaten a government shutdown over Obamacare, while Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has vowed to hold firm on the sequester, potentially also leading to a shutdown showdown over spending levels.
Boehner, of course, has repeatedly accused Obama of threatening to veto a year-end spending bill. But White House spokesmen have been fuzzy when asked repeatedly if Obama would veto a spending bill that keeps the sequester intact.
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.