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Obama Accuses Republicans Of Holding Economic Recovery To Ransom

Michelle Toh |
September 16, 2013 | 3:29 p.m. PDT

Assistant News Editor

Obama placed a renewed emphasis on economic recovery on Monday. (Creative Commons)
Obama placed a renewed emphasis on economic recovery on Monday. (Creative Commons)
President Obama accused Republicans of holding the U.S. economic recovery to ransom on Monday, turning the nation's attention back to the economy as it nears a deadline on its borrowing limits. 

In a speech that marked the fifth-year anniversary of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, which triggered the start of the financial crisis, the president said that some Republicans are now threatening another crisis, which may result in a potential government shutdown and a credit default. 

"I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it doesn't get 100 percent of what it wants. That's never happened before," Obama said. "But that's what's happening now."

The president said again that he would not negotiate over the extension of the debt ceiling, criticizing Republicans who have advocated budget proposals that include additional spending cuts. "These aren’t the policies that would grow the economy faster. They're not the policies that would help grow the middle class. In fact, they’d do the opposite," he said.

He took the opportunity to promote the administration's efforts in rebuilding the economy. "We've begun to lay a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity," he said. "Over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs. Our deficits are now falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II."

Meanwhile, Republicans maintain that the unemployment rate remains over 7 percent and say that economic growth has been sluggish. 

Obama called on lawmakers to pass a budget that would eliminate the sequester, a series of automatic across-the-board spending cuts that began in March. 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress on Aug. 26 that the U.S. would hit its $16.7 trillion debt limit in mid-October, after which it would be difficult to pay all its bills. Urging them to take action and avoid "another crisis of the last minute," he said that political indecision would also reflect in uncertainty in the financial markets. 

"We're now in the place where the only question is will we pay the bills that the United States has incurred," Lew said in an interview with CNBC. "The only way to do that is for Congress to act, for it to act quickly. We don't need another self-inflicted wound."

A number of Republican senators, including Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have called for the withholding of funds for Obamacare, a move which Lew has also said the president will block

Congress is set to begin negotiations for the 2014 budget on Oct. 1. This week, Obama will kick off a series of economic-themed events, designed to address a variety of issues, such as immigration, the budget, trade policy and the auto bailout. 

The president gave his speech late because of the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. The fact that he even delivered the remarks at all, as the Washington Post says, is "somewhat remarkable given the developing news... In so doing, Obama sent a powerful signal: I am and remain primarily focused on the economy."

Reach Assistant News Editor Michelle Toh here. 



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