Barack Obama has warned opposition politicians to stop using “threats and extortion” over the ongoing US government shutdown.
The president, addressing a news conference, said the American people don’t demand a ransom for doing their jobs, so neither should Republicans.
The US government closed down on October 1, when Congress was unable to agree a budget. Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, refused to approve the budget, claiming they would only do so in exchange for concessions over Obama’s controversial healthcare reform law.
Obama now says he is willing to talk about any issues once Congress has voted to re-open government and raise the debt ceiling.
He said: “I will sit down and work with anyone of any party not only to talk about the budget, I’ll talk about ways to improve the healthcare system.”
He added that ordinary Americans would suffer if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised and the country defaulted.
Obama said: “A decision to actually go through with it, to actually permit default according to many CEOs and economists would be and I’m quoting here ‘insane catastrophic chaos’ , these are some of the more polite words. Warren Buffet likened default to a nuclear bomb.
“We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy. Democracy doesn’t function this way. And this is not just for me. It’s also for my successors in office, whatever party they’re from.”
Obama said that if Congress refused to raise the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet its financial obligations for the first time in 225 years.
The US has until October 17 to raise its borrowing limit before it risks defaulting.
The shutdown has delayed talks with the European Union over a free trade deal.