WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, facing a budget showdown with Congress, called on some of the nation's top corporate executives Wednesday to use their influence with Congress to avoid a potentially damaging confrontation over the nation's debt ceiling.
Obama reiterated his vow not to negotiate with Republicans over raising the borrowing limit, which the government is about to hit as early as next month. And he blamed "a faction" of the GOP that he said is trying to eliminate his health care law by threatening a government shutdown or a default on the debt.
"We're not going to set up a situation where the full faith and credit of the United States is put on the table every year or every year and a half and we go through some sort of terrifying financial brinksmanship because of some ideological arguments that people are having about some particular issue of the day," Obama told members of the Business Roundtable. "We're not going to do that."
He argued that the modest economic recovery would be hurt if Republican lawmakers can't work with Democrats to pass a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
After that, Congress must find a way to raise the current $16.7 trillion borrowing limit, expected to hit its ceiling sometime in mid- to late October. Obama also urged his CEO audience to appeal to congressional Republicans to resolve budget differences in ways that "do not promise apocalypse every three months."
Obama has been using the fifth anniversary of the nation's financial near-meltdown this week to make his case, delivering an economic address at the White House on Monday and scheduling a trip to a Ford Motor Co. plant near Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to illustrate the comeback of the auto industry.
Republicans in the GOP-controlled House want to tie continued spending to defunding or delaying Obama's signature health care law. The White House said Obama would specifically ask the corporate leaders to deliver a message to Congress that a default would hurt businesses. Obama was expected to blame what the White House calls "extreme members of the Republican Party" for the threats.
The White House said Obama would note that during the last debt ceiling fight in 2011, the brinkmanship caused the stock market to plunge, prompted Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating and resulted in a plunge in consumer confidence.
Obama insists he won't negotiate to raise the debt ceiling, though the talks in 2011 yielded a deficit-cutting bargain. The White House especially rejects any attempt to defund or delay the health care law.
Republican leaders note that it's not unusual for debt ceiling increases to be tied to budget deals, though several borrowing limits during past administrations have been raised with few or no strings attached.
"No one is threatening to default," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our coming debt crisis. Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt limit increase, and this time should be no different."