Obama accuses GOP faction of trying to 'extort' him on healthcare

President Obama addresses members of the Business Roundtable on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
President Obama addresses members of the Business Roundtable on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.(Alex Wong / EPA)

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday accused Republicans of using extortion in trying to kill his signature healthcare plan just days before it is implemented.

Speaking to business leaders, Obama criticized what he called "that faction" of the GOP that is willing to consider shutting down the government or defaulting on the debt to gut the Affordable Care Act.


It is unprecedented, Obama said, "to extort a president" by forcing issues "that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt" into budget negotiations.

Obama said he is "happy to negotiate with them around the budget," but that he doesn't want to create a pattern where the "full faith and credit of the United States becomes a bargaining chip to set policy."

"It's irresponsible," he said.

The remarks were part of an ongoing appeal to corporate leaders from the White House to help pressure Republican lawmakers on the fall budget and debt negotiations.

The president's appearance before the Republican-leaning group came as he faces impending deadlines. Congress must take action to keep the government open or prepare for a shutdown Oct. 1.

Soon after, the federal government would hit the limit of the money it can borrow and would have to default on its bills unless lawmakers raise the debt ceiling. Some House Republicans are talking about making their vote on those critical matters contingent on a repeal of the 2010 health law.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has a different plan — to push for deficit-reduction measures in return for agreeing to increase the debt limit, goals his staff argues are related and would affect the long-term health of the economy.

A Boehner aide said Obama was making too much of the overall threat.


"No one is threatening to default," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our debt crisis."

Obama, though, stepped up his rhetoric about the threat, casting it in end-of-time terms. He said Washington should get back to "what used to be called regular order around here."

That order included debate and disagreement, Obama said, "but did not promise apocalypse every three months."

Twitter: @cparsons