Obama 16Sept2013
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy to mark the five-year anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis at the White House in Washington September 16, 2013. Reuters

Marking the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis that threatened to topple the U.S. economy in the fall of 2008, President Obama on Monday assailed Republicans in Congress for not focusing on the economic recovery and threatening to hold the economy hostage in an attempt to repeal the health care reform law.

In a White House speech that resembled Obama’s campaign-style rhetoric from last year, the president repeated his promise not to compromise over raising the debt limit, which the U.S. is expected to hit in mid-October.

“In case there’s any confusion,” Obama said, “I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Some Republicans in Congress are pushing to trigger a government shutdown or refuse to raise the debt ceiling in order defund the health care reform law, which is scheduled to open up its health care exchanges for registration on Oct. 1. For Republicans to trigger another economic crisis over Obamacare, the president said, “would be the height of irresponsibility.”

As the economic recovery falters, and polls show approval of Obama’s handling of the economy is shrinking, Obama used his speech to make the case for his own economic program and lay the blame on Republicans for pushing harmful policies that prioritize debt reduction over growing the economy.

“So far, their budget ideas revolve primarily around even deeper cuts to education, even deeper cuts that would gut America’s research and development,” Obama said of Republicans, calling this strategy the opposite of what is needed to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class. Obama also called on Republicans to work with Democrats to undo the sequestration spending cuts, which, he said, are damaging the economy.