President Obama would like the Republicans to stop focusing on quixotic quests and start focusing on the actual economy.
The president took a jab at some GOPers’ effort to defund Obamacare Thursday in a speech at the State University of New York at Buffalo, insisting it’s a distraction from the real issue at hand: strengthening the middle class.
“As any middle class family will tell you, we’re not where we need to be at,” Obama said. “…It’s a struggle for a lot of folks. So reversing this trend should be, must be Washington’s highest priority. It’s my highest priority,” the commander-in-chief said.
He lamented, “I’ve got to say, it’s not always Washington’s highest priority. Because rather than keeping focus on a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs, we’ve seen a faction of Republicans in Congress suggest that maybe America shouldn’t pay its bills that have already been run up—that we should shut down government if they can’t shut down Obamacare.”
Obama said, “That won’t grow our economy. That won’t create jobs. That won’t help our middle class. We can’t afford in Washington the usual circus of distractions and political posturing.”
His remarks come as a group of Tea Party aligned Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, want to defund Obama’s Affordable Care Act as part of a government spending bill. The plan could well result in a government shutdown if lawmakers can’t pass a resolution to keep the government running after Sept. 30.
Several of the senators have been traveling across their states to ratchet up support for their plan. Rubio took a mini-swing through Florida earlier this month to show his support for the initiative. And Cruz, at a town hall in Dallas earlier this week, told the crowd to stand its ground.
“We’ve all seen this movie before,” he said. “President Obama and Harry Reid are gonna scream and yell ‘those mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government.’” He explained the crucial step to ensure victory: “One side or the other has to blink. How do we win this fight? Don’t blink!”
Meanwhile, other Republicans are arguing the strategy could backfire and the GOP would be blamed if a shutdown takes place.
Obama’s criticism comes as part of a two-day bus trip in New York and Pennsylvania. In Buffalo, he detailed an education plan that includes rating colleges based in part of affordability with the eventual goal of tying the ratings to federal aid for colleges.