WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said congressional Republicans are using the federal debt limit to "extort" the government into repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking Wednesday at the Business Roundtable in Washington, the president said the threat of a federal government shutdown when current funding expires Sept. 30 is the result of an "ideological fight that's been mounted in the House of Representatives that says, we're not going to pass a budget and we will threaten a government shutdown unless we repeal the Affordable Care Act."
"We have not seen this in the past, that a budget is contingent on us eliminating a program that was voted on, passed by both chambers of Congress, ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, is two weeks from being fully implemented, and that helps 30 million people finally get health care coverage," he said.
"What's worse, that same faction has said, if we can't succeed in shutting the government down and leveraging that to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, we may be prepared to let the government default on our debt."
Obama said he would not allow the full faith and credit of the United States to be "a bargaining chip to set policy."
The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday the federal debt ceiling needs to be raised by mid-October or the government could go into default on some of its obligations.
Obama told his audience Wednesday national deficits, which contribute to the federal debt, were falling at a rate some economists suggest is too fast.
"In fact, the International Monetary Fund and other international organizations that had cautioned us previously about our deficits are actually now concerned that we're bringing our deficits down too fast," he said.
Republicans in 2011 threatened to vote no on raising the debt ceiling in an attempt to force a discussion of lowering the nation's debt. The prospect of no increase in the borrowing limit led to a downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness.
The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday the budget deficit will drop to 4 percent of the gross domestic product this year and fall to 2 percent in 2015, and the debt will fall from 73 percent of GDP to 68 percent.
After that, however, the CBO said deficits would rise, pushing the debt higher.