Obama says will not ‘pay a ransom’ to end shutdown crisis
Washington: Warning that an economic shutdown with debt default would be "dramatically worse", US President Barack Obama on Saturday appealed to the opposition to pass the federal budget with no partisan strings attached but said he would not "pay a ransom" to end the crisis.
"There's only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached," Obama said in his weekly address.
Making it clear that he would not change his position on the issue, Obama warned, "For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse."
Appealing to the opposition to end the deadlock, Obama said, "Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now."
The House of Representatives prepared for today's session but with no expectations of progress on either the shutdown which began on Tuesday or a measure to raise the nation's USD 16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
Congress must act by October 17 in order to avoid a government debt default.
Obama said the Americans "don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don't get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don't get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don't agree to take her parents' health insurance away.
That's not how our democracy is supposed to work."
"That's why I won't pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won't pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling," Obama said.
During the address, Obama said he was willing to work with anyone from Democrats to Republicans to boost the economy, create new jobs, and "get our fiscal house in order for the long haul".
"But not under the shadow of these threats to our economy," he said.
"Earlier this week, the Republican House of Representatives chose to shut down a government they don't like over a healthcare law they don't like," Obama said, as he read out letters he received from Americans impacted by the government shutdown.
"Pass a budget. End this government shutdown. Pay our bills. Prevent an economic shutdown," he said.
The US government closed non-essential operations after Congress failed to strike a deal on spending and budget due to differences over 'Obamacare', the signature healthcare programme of President Obama. Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the impasse.
The shutdown has left nearly 800,000 employees on unpaid leave and closed national parks, tourist sites, official websites, office buildings, and more establishments.