(Reuters) - President Barack Obama said he is frustrated with Republicans who are considering the threat of a government shutdown and other tactics to try to thwart his healthcare overhaul.
In an interview on CNN’s “New Day” program that aired on Friday, Obama called on Congress to get to work to pass a comprehensive budget when lawmakers return to Washington next month rather than engage in threats to use the nation’s debt ceiling or a federal government shutdown as political leverage.
“Republicans, after having taken 40 votes to try to get rid of Obamacare, see this as their last gasp,” Obama said in the interview, which was taped Thursday night.
“Look, ultimately, the buck stops with me. And so any time we are not moving forward on things that should be simple, I get frustrated,” Obama said, adding that congressional Republicans need “to think less about politics and party and think more about what’s good for the country.”
Congress faces two key deadlines this fall: an October 1 deadline to pass legislation funding federal agencies, or else shut down the government; and in late October or early November, lawmakers must pass an increase in the U.S. debt limit or face a default.
Republicans, who staunchly oppose Obama’s 2010 healthcare measure known as Obamacare, have said they are considering using the debt limit as leverage to halt the law’s implementation.
That would be an alternative to another approach backed by conservative Tea Party Republicans who want to deny funding for the law and threaten a possible government shutdown, though many other Republicans in both the House and the Senate oppose that strategy as reckless.
Obama said either tactic would be harmful.
“There is nobody out there who thinks that us not paying bills we’ve already racked up is good for the economy, is appropriate,” he said, adding that using the country’s borrowing limit as leverage would harm America’s reputation.
Shutting down the federal government would also hurt the economy and working Americans, he said.
Instead, the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled Senate should focus on their “core responsibility” of working out their differences and passing a budget and approving a debt limit so the country can operate, Obama said.
“If Congress simply does those two things when they get back, then the economy can continue to recover,” Obama said.
“If you are putting the American people first, if you are prioritizing them, then this shouldn’t be that difficult,” he added.
Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech