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MailTribune.com
  • 'Economic chaos'? Obama says 'extreme' Republicans shouldn't stop budget deal

  • WASHINGTON — A potential federal shutdown looming, President Barack Obama on Monday warned congressional Republicans they could trigger national "economic chaos" if they demand a delay of his health care law as the price for supporting continued spending for federal operations.
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  • WASHINGTON — A potential federal shutdown looming, President Barack Obama on Monday warned congressional Republicans they could trigger national "economic chaos" if they demand a delay of his health care law as the price for supporting continued spending for federal operations.
    House Republican leaders were to meet today in hopes of finding a formula that would avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1 without alienating party conservatives who insist on votes to undercut the Affordable Care Act. Even more daunting is a mid- to late October deadline for raising the nation's borrowing limit, which some Republicans also want to use as leverage against the Obama administration. "Are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they're willing to tank the entire economy just because they can't get their way on this issue?" Obama said in a speech at the White House. "Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points?"
    The Republicans don't see it that way. House Speaker John Boehner, who opposes the threat of a shutdown, said, "It's a shame that the president could not manage to rise above partisanship today." Obama, said Boehner, "should be working in a bipartisan way to address America's spending problem, the way presidents of both parties have done before," and should delay implementation of the health care law.
    While some conservatives supported by the tea party have been making shutdown threats, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Monday that was "a dumb idea." At a community meeting in Louisville, he said, "We should fight for what we believe in and then maybe we find something in between the two. ... I am for the debate, I am for fighting. I don't want to shut the government down, though. I think that's a bad solution."
    Obama timed his remarks for the fifth anniversary of the bankruptcy of Wall Street giant Lehman Bros., a major early event in the near-meltdown of the U.S. financial system and a severe global recession. He used the occasion to draw attention to the still-recovering economy and to what he called a "safer" system now in place.
    He delayed his remarks as authorities responded to the shootings that officials said left at least 13 people dead at the Washington Navy Yard just a few miles from the White House. His remarks also came amid public skepticism over the state of the economy and his handling of it.
    While unemployment has dropped to 7.3 percent from a high of 10 percent and the housing market has begun to recover, the share of long-term unemployed workers is double what it was before the recession, and a homebuilding revival has yet to take hold. A new analysis conducted for The Associated Press shows that the gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest level since officials began tracking the data a decade ago.
    Obama conceded the problems, noting that the country has come far from where it was five years ago "but that's not the end of the story. As any middle-class family will tell you or anybody who's striving to get in the middle class, we are not yet where we need to be.
    But "after all the progress that we've made over these last four-and-a-half years, the idea of reversing that progress because of an unwillingness to compromise ... is the height of irresponsibility."
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