With a busy commercial port in Florida as his backdrop, US President Barack Obama warned Republican lawmakers on Thursday that threatening a government shutdown or debt default jeopardizes the fragile US economic recovery.
The Democratic president pushed for new spending on infrastructure and education to create more jobs in the third of a series of speeches gearing up for the next fiscal fight with Republicans in the House of Representatives.
“We’ve got some of the House Republicans who put forward a budget that does just the opposite. They’re pushing bills that would cut education, cut science, cut research,” he said.
Obama toured the port in Jacksonville, Florida, which has been upgraded to handle new supertankers, explaining his administration fast-tracked the permit for the project.
However, he blamed Republicans for budget cuts that delayed rapid transit projects in the city.
While Obama said some Republicans in the US Senate are willing to find common ground on issues, he chided some House Republicans for suggesting they are willing to vote against lifting the debt ceiling, a vote Congress will face this fall.
“Threatening that you won’t pay the bills in this country when you’ve already racked up those bills — that’s not an economic plan. That’s just being a deadbeat,” Obama said.
“With an endless distraction of political posturing and phony scandals and lord knows what, Washington keeps taking its eye off the ball,” Obama said in his speech.
By Oct. 1, Congress must pass spending bills to keep the government running. Not long after, lawmakers must raise the nation’s borrowing limit or risk default.
Congressional Republicans, concerned about a large budget deficit and bills to come due in the future as a result of government retirement and health programs, want spending cuts and lower taxes as part of the budget process.