President Obama on Monday offered a tough challenge to Republican lawmakers, warning that he would not negotiate over raising the nation’s borrowing limit and accusing GOP rivals of threatening the economy to score political points.
“Are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they’re willing to tank the entire economy just because they can’t get their way on this issue?” Obama said in an address at the White House. “Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points? I hope not.”
The White House trumpeted Obama’s speech as an economic address to mark the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis, and has touted the administration’s policies, arguing they helped pull the nation out of the Great Recession.
While Obama focused on the economy, the president’s remarks played instead like an opening salvo to Republican lawmakers on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, ahead of key fiscal clashes in the coming weeks.
“In case there is any confusion, “ Obama warned, “I will not negotiate over whether or nor America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States.”
Obama went ahead with his planned speech, even with much of Washington and the nation focused on the deadly shooting at the nearby Navy Yard on Monday morning.
Obama said the nation was confronting “yet another mass shooting” and vowed justice for those behind the “cowardly act.”
The president kept his remarks brief, saying that he had received updates on the shooting, which killed at least four, according to reports.
Obama sought to pivot back to economic issues, following a week where attention was riveted on Syria and with the White House and Congress facing an October deadline to keep the government funded and the nation poised to hit its borrowing limit just weeks later.
With his last election behind him, the president insisted on Monday that he would not negotiate around the debt ceiling. Many GOP lawmakers hope to condition a hike to the debt limit on further spending cuts and possible entitlement reforms.
Republicans quickly dismissed Obama’s rhetoric, arguing that he had negotiated with them on prior debt limit increases.
“So, in case anyone was fooled, this event is clearly not about marking the financial crash — just a lengthy partisan attack,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on Twitter.
With no compromise proposal in sight, Obama sought to place pressure on Republicans.
“I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants,” he said.
“Congress has a couple of weeks to get this done,” Obama added.