The White House on Thursday denounced as “extortion” Republican efforts to defund Obamacare and force Democrats to accept spending cuts and entitlement reforms in the face of a possible government shutdown or default.
“We cannot agree to an extortion game when they attach everything on their Republican wish list or they will blow up the economy,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
House Republican leaders earlier Thursday said they would insist on a number of conditions in exchange for raising the debt ceiling in October. The White House, though, has said Obama will not negotiate over the nation's borrowing limit, insisting on a “clean” debt-limit hike.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also said he was not ready to give up on a fight that could force a government shutdown next week.
The House passed a continuing resolution that funds government until mid-December but strips money from Obamacare. That measure is dead on arrival in the Democratically-controlled Senate, and Obama has vowed to veto any bill that cuts funding for his health care reforms. The Senate is likely to pass a continuing resolution without cuts to Obamacare.
Asked if the Senate bill would receive a House vote, Boehner said, “I do not see that happening.”
Boehner said Republicans intended to force Obama to the budget table.
“The president says 'I'm not going to negotiate.' Well, I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way,” the speaker said.
At an event in Maryland to tout healthcare reform earlier Thursday, President Obama accused Republicans of trying to “blackmail” him.
“All of this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy,” he told an audience at a community college.
“The Tea Party Republicans have taken it to a whole new level because they're threatening to shut down the government or shut down the entire economy unless I agree to gut a law that will help millions of people,” he said.
At the very least, Carney said Republicans should pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government open for a finite period while the two parties negotiate a broader budget deal.
“To threaten to shut down the government in order to achieve a partisan objective that could not be achieved through the normal process is irresponsible,” he said. “So we hope it doesn't happen.”