Obama: GOP Using Extortion In Debt Limit, Budget Fights

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama speaks to members of the Business Roundtable, a trade group representing America’s big business, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, in Washington.

President Barack Obama took his toughest swipe yet at congressional Republicans Wednesday in the burgeoning fight over raising the nation’s debt limit again, accusing the GOP of trying to extort him by tying a potential increase to a delay in the implementation of Obamacare.

“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a — a governing party,” Obama told the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs.

Obama said his dispute with House Republicans over a budget for the federal government has also entered uncharted territory, with their demand to link a continuing resolution to postponing the unpopular healthcare law.

“What we now have is a ideological fight that’s been mounted in the House of Representatives that says, we’re not going to pass a budget and we will threaten a government shutdown unless we repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said. “We have not seen this in the past, that a budget is contingent on us eliminating a program that was voted on, passed by both chambers of Congress, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, is two weeks from being fully implemented and that helps 30 million people finally get health care coverage — we’ve never seen that become the issue around a budget battle.”

Republicans note that Obama himself voted against raising the debt limit as a form of protest against the Bush administration when he was a Senator. The president asked business leaders to lean on members of Congress to change course. After his remarks, Obama took questions behind closed doors.