By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday blamed Republicans for an “ideological crusade” aimed at his healthcare program and urged lawmakers to vote to keep government operations running and to raise the nation’s borrowing cap without conditions.
“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” he said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden.
“Many Representatives have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker (John) Boehner to take 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,” he said.
The president also warned Republicans against using a crucial mid-October deadline to raise the government’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling as leverage to try to reverse the health care law or achieve other political objectives.
“Congress, generally, has to stop governing by crisis,” he said. “I‘m not going allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.”
A debt default that would result if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling when it is reached in less than three weeks could be devastating, Obama said. The threat of default in 2011 resulted in a painful debt rating downgrade, he added.
“If they go through with it this time, and force the United States to default for the first time in its history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown, as bad as a shutdown is. It would be an economic shutdown,” he said.