WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- President Obama used the podium at the Congressional Black Caucus' annual dinner Saturday to again rip Republicans for trying to defund U.S. healthcare reform.
Obama told those gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the caucus foundation's Phoenix Awards dinner he wanted to speak "as clearly as I can -- it's not going to happen."
The Democratic president said congressional Republicans are not only risking a government shutdown in their bid to gut the Affordable Care Act, but are putting the nation's good credit rating in jeopardy.
"It is time for these folks to stop governing by crisis" and focus on "what really matters," Obama said, reiterating that the federal debt ceiling is not up for negotiation because the country is obligated to pay its bills.
While Obama spent most of his 19-minute appearance before the black caucus' gather talking about the economy, he also touched on civil rights, healthcare, education, college costs and public safety.
Referring to the recent 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream," the president said equality has to go "hand in hand with economic opportunity." He told the like-minded crowd, "we've got to pick up the torch of economic justice" while preventing the country from rolling back from its civil rights gains.
The violence that wracked the nation this week -- both in his hometown of Chicago and Washington where he works -- also drew his attention.
Children, he said, should be able to walk down the street "free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet," Obama said.