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Obama: Shutting down the government won't help middle class

President Obama warned congressional Republicans on Saturday not to try to use the threat of a government shutdown to defund the health care law.

"Gutting critical investments in our future and threatening national default on the bills that Congress has already racked up – that’s not an economic plan," Obama said in his weekly address. "Denying health care to millions of Americans, or shutting down the government just because I’m for keeping it open – that won’t help the middle class."

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Republican lawmakers including Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) have argued that congressional Republicans should block any government funding bill that provides money for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature health care law.

If Congress fails to pass a spending resolution by Sept. 30, it would trigger a government shutdown.

In his speech, Obama also reiterated his complaint that Republicans have focused on "phony" scandals.

"Too often over the past two years, Washington has taken its eye off the ball," he said. "They’ve allowed an endless parade of political posturing and phony scandals to distract from growing our economy and strengthening the middle class."

Obama has referred to "phony scandals" in previous speeches. When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked earlier this week what the president was referring to, he pointed to the controversy over the IRS's targeting of conservative groups and the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi.

Obama said in his speech that he is open to working with Republicans to reform the federal tax code, but only if the government also invests money in job creation.

"We can put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our infrastructure. We can boost manufacturing, so more American companies can sell their products around the world," Obama said. "And we can help our community colleges arm our workers with the skills they need in a global economy – all without adding a dime to the deficit."