The president used his weekly address to the American people to demand that Congress meet its two responsibilities: “pass a budget on time and pay our bills on time.”
“I will work with anyone who wants to have a serious conversation about our economic future,” Obama said. “But I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills it has already racked up. I don’t know how to be more clear about this: no one gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America just to extract ideological concessions.”
Congress will meet over the weekend to try to iron a deal on a spending bill to keep the government open past Monday, Sept. 30.
Lawmakers are simultaneously working on legislation to extend the debt ceiling beyond $16.7 trillion by Oct. 17, after which the federal government risks defaulting on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
House Republicans are demanding that the healthcare law be defunded before Americans can enroll in the new marketplaces starting on Oct. 1.
Many people will become eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance on those marketplaces starting in 2014, making Republican efforts to derail the law after that exponentially complicated.
“This Tuesday is an important day for families, businesses, and our economy,” Obama said. “It’s the day a big part of the Affordable Care Act kicks in and tens of millions of Americans will finally have the same chance to buy quality, affordable health care as everyone else.
“It’s also the day that a group of far-right Republicans in Congress might choose to shut down the government and potentially damage the economy just because they don’t like this law.”
Obama outlined benefits of the law that are already in place – such as preventative care without co-pays, drug discounts for seniors, no more lifetime coverage limits and discrimination against children with preexisting conditions, or young adults' ability to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. He invited Americans without insurance to visit HealthCare.gov starting Tuesday to enroll into the new state-based health insurance marketplaces.
“These marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday, no matter what,” he said.
“The Affordable Care Act is one of the most important things we’ve done as a country in decades to strengthen economic security for the middle class and all who strive to join the middle class. And it is going to work.”