President Barack Obama accused his Republican opponents of being childish Tuesday and demanded they stop injecting poison pills that would defund Obamacare as the price of paying for ongoing government operations.
“That’s not how adults operate,” the President said in an unscheduled Rose Garden address hours after a nationwide shutdown of non-essential government operations sent upwards of 1-million public servants home without pay.
“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” the President said of Republicans, adding that moderates in the party have been prevented from a simple up or down vote on keeping government open with no strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people’s government open and operating.
With the short afternoon speech, Mr. Obama waded into the nasty partisan swamp that threatens to engulf Washington.
“The Republican shutdown threatens our economy,” Mr. Obama said, seeking to blame the ongoing impasse between the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and the Democrat majority in the Senate squarely on Republicans.
Mr. Obama went further, saying moderate Republicans who recognize the risks the shutdown will create should “tell the extreme right of their party to ‘knock it off.’”
The President was referring to the Tea Party, the right wing of the Republicans which has vowed to block Obamacare, as the controversial Affordable Care Act is known, at all costs.
“Let me be more specific,” Mr. Obama said. “One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government shut down major parts of the government all because they didn't like one law.”
The irony, said the President, is that “they have shut down a whole bunch of the government but health care is open for business.”
In most states, the new health care exchanges that allow – in fact require – all Americans not covered by other heath care plans to buy coverage opened on Tuesday.
He accused Republicans of holding the economy “hostage” and demanded that Congress end the impasse. “Pass a budget, don’t wait, don’t delay,” the President said.
And he warned that the American people were tired of the ongoing dysfunction in Washington.
“Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis,” he said, adding that the looming deadline for raising the debt ceiling next month shouldn’t be another excuse for pushing the country to the financial brink.
Mr. Obama said he hoped the shutdown would be short but warned things would get worse the longer it lasted. In 1995 and 1996 a government shutdown lasted 26 days before Congress authorized spending.
“The longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be,” Mr. Obama said. “More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed. So once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work.”