By Justin Sink - 09/16/13 05:24 PM EDT
President Obama accused Republicans of "the height of irresponsibility" for an "unwillingness to compromise" over the budget in pointed remarks marking the fifth anniversary of the start of the financial crisis.
The president's remarks were largely overshadowed by Monday's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, and Obama used the opening of his remarks to condemn the "cowardly act." But he pressed on with his case for Congress to pass a budget and debt-ceiling extension, noting Congress only "has a couple of weeks to get this done."
Lawmakers must agree on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government by the end of September, which also marks the end of the fiscal year. If they fail to do so, the government would shut down, except for essential services.
The nation is also rapidly approaching the drop-dead date for hitting the debt ceiling, which restricts Washington’s ability to loan money and cover its payment obligations. An analysis released last week by the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated the country would hit the debt ceiling sometime between Oct. 18 and Nov. 5.
With that in mind, the White House has looked to pivot back to the economy in recent days.
The administration released a report late Sunday night touting the steps the president has taken to address the economic downturn. He also sat for a rare Sunday show interview with ABC News, in addition to holding the event Monday at the White House.
Obama acknowledged that "in recent weeks, much of our attention has been focused on Syria," but said that he has remained focused on his "No. 1 priority" — the economy. He was strongly critical of Republicans, accusing them of pursuing "the kind of actions we don't need" to maintain economic growth.
He defended his economic record, saying he saved the American auto industry, made the tax code fairer and improved the unemployment situation.
"We've cleared away the rubble of the financial crisis," Obama said.
The president went on to argue that a Republican plan to tie raising the debt ceiling to a delay of ObamaCare was relitigating a settled issue.
"It was an issue in last year's election, and the candidate who called for repeal lost," Obama said.
He also reiterated that he would "not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word."
"Are some of these folks so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they're willing to tank the economy?" Obama asked. "Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points?"
Republicans quickly dismissed the president's remarks. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), called the speech "just a lengthy partisan attack."
"If attack filled partisan speeches equaled balanced budgets and economic growth, the Obama Economy would be roaring," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring said.
At the White House, Obama insisted that his motives were apolitical.
"I've run my last election," said the president. "My only interest at this point is making sure the economy is moving the way it needs to."
But he also demanded that his opponents on the other side of the aisle "stop the threats, [and] stop the political posturing."