Making it clear he is not about to negotiate with Republicans to do the job they’re elected to perform but didn't, nor be blackmailed into reversing his signature legislative achievement, President Barack Obama Tuesday called on House Republicans to work with Democrats to reopen the federal government and to restart the services Americans are depending on.
A U.S. government shutdown kicked in Tuesday at 12:00:01 a.m. EDT when Capitol Hill lawmakers missed the deadline to agree on a continuing resolution that would have provided temporary funding to avert it. Congress remains gridlocked over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as Republicans try to tie repealing or delaying the law to funding the government and increasing the debt limit. Like Obama, Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have said that any attempt to defund or delay Obamacare will not be considered by the Senate.
And with Capitol Hill fingers pointing to opposite sides of the aisle, Obama Tuesday didn’t shy away from saying who should get the blame.
“One faction of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of the government shut down major parts of the government all because they did not like one law,” Obama said during an address in the White House Rose Garden. “This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.”
Calling the Republicans’ action an “ideological crusade” over Obamacare, the president said he will “not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny health care to millions of Americans.” The president reminded his detractors that despite the government shutdown, they still did not achieve their stated objective:
“It is settled and it is here to stay,” Obama said of the 2010 health care law, “and because of its funding sources it is not affected by a government shutdown.”
The president said the irony Republicans now have to contend with is that they have forced parts of the government to close their doors -- sending about 800,000 civilian workers on furlough -- while the “Affordable Care Act is still open for business.”
“Pass a budget. Move on,” Obama said, emphasizing he will not succumb to Republican demands for a "ransom" to do their job.
The full impact of this lapse in funding for the government will not be known for some time, the president said, as that’s dependent on how long it lasts. However, Obama added “the longer this shutdown continues the worse it will be. More families will be hurt. ”
According to Bloomberg, the partial shutdown will initially cost about $300 million per day in lost economic output. Other economists say U.S. GDP will be reduced by at least 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and by more in the first quarter of 2014, if the shutdown stretches into several months.
Meanwhile, enrollment at health insurance policies at Obamacare exchanges began Tuesday with individuals signing up for six-month coverage.