Obama slams Republicans; says shutdown will harm US economy
Washington: President Barack Obama has said the government shutdown would badly hit the American economy, as he blamed the opposition Republican party for the crisis that has forced up to one million workers off the job.
Obama urged the Congress to pass the budget and end the government shutdown, even as there was no breakthrough in the talks between the Republicans and Democrats to end the crisis.
The two parties failed to strike a deal before a deadline on spending and budget due to differences over 'Obamacare', the signature healthcare programme of President Obama.
"We know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed. So once again," Obama yesterday said in his remarks to the press at the Rose Garden of the White House on the first day of the government shutdown, the first time in nearly 18 years.
Obama urged the Congress to pass the budget and end the shutdown. "Pay your bills, prevent an economic shutdown. Don't wait, don't delay, don't put our economy or our people through this any longer," he said.
"I will not negotiate over Congress' responsibility to pay bills it's already racked up. I'm not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don't like."
About 800,000 federal workers in the US were told to stay at home while national parks, museums, government buildings and services shutdown as a result of the deadlock.
Obama said one may not know the full impact of this Republican shutdown for some time but "it will depend on how long it lasts".
"But we do know a couple of things. We know that the last time Republicans shut down the government in 1996, it hurt our economy. And unlike 1996, our economy's still recovering from the worst recession in generations," he said.
Prepared to work with the with Democrats and Republicans to grow the economy and create jobs and get our fiscal house in order over the long run, he said this shutdown isn't about deficits or spending or budgets.
"After all, our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 50 years. We've cut them in half since I took office. In fact, many of the demands the Republicans are now making would actually raise our deficits," he said.
"This shutdown is not about deficits. It's not about budgets. This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don't have it. It's all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act.
"This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it's strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centrepiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is," Obama said.