The televised speech, which is the first time he's discussed a possible shutdown at length in the current battle to fund the government, came just hours after the Republican-led House voted to strip funding for Obamacare in a resolution to avert a shutdown Sept. 30. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Republicans are divided on whether to threaten a shutdown in order to scrap funds for the health care reform law or to back down and not risk the political fallout of a shutdown.
"One Republican senator called shutting down the government over Affordable Care Act the dumbest idea I've ever heard. I agree with him," Obama said, referring to remarks made in late July by Sen. Richard Burr (NC).
"They're not focused on you. They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me," the president said. "[Obamacare] was an issue in last year's elections. The guy running against me said he was going to repeal it. And we won."
Obama aimed some of his fire at GOP threats to use the need to raise the debt limit -- which is set to be reached mid-October -- as leverage to force a one-year delay of Obamacare.
Congress has raised or extended the debt limit 78 times since 1960, according to the Treasury Department. A handful of those bills included fiscal policy reforms, which Republicans have pointed to as precedent for a president being willing to negotiate. Prior to 2011, when the government came within 24 hours of exhausting its borrowing limit, the threat of default was not on the table. Obama is determined not to make that mistake again, reiterating Friday his position that raising the debt limit is non-negotiable.
This time, he called on the public to back him up.
"We're not some banana republic. We don't run out on our tab," he said. "And even threatening something like that is the height of irresponsibility. What I've said is I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I am not going to allow anyone to harm this country's reputation. I'm not going to allow them to inflict economic pain to make an ideological point. But I need you to help. I need you to help tell Congress, pay our bills on time. Pass a budget on time. Stop governing crisis to crisis."