Washington: The bitter budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans pushed the US government's shutdown into the second day today with President Barack Obama postponing his visits to Malaysia and the Philippines in the wake of the crisis that can cost the ailing economy billions.
The two parties failed to strike a deal before the October 1 deadline on spending and budget due to differences over 'Obamacare', the signature healthcare programme of President Obama.
Obama lambasted the Republicans for being "reckless" in their apparent willingness to take on the government in order to strike down the law overhauling major aspects of health care coverage. He championed the landmark law, signed in 2010, then saw it upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
"We know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed," he said yesterday, the first time the government shut down 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 USA through the mud just to re-fight 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," Obama said.
In the wake of the crisis at home, the US President has postponed his first visit to Malaysia and the Philippines next week.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that "logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shutdown."
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 over Obamacare. The law's actual name is 'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' and it requires all Americans to have health insurance.
Meanwhile, the White House has said the Congress ought to open the government, return people to work, and "without drama and delay fulfil its responsibility" to make sure the United States pays its bills.
But the Republican party leaders, were not willing to make any changes in their approach, as?a result of which the Congress has not been able to pass the budget. The crisis could cost the US economy billions.
First Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 18:23