President Obama broadened his focus in the budget battle Thursday, saying a government default on its debts would hurt the economy worse than the ongoing government shutdown.
"As reckless as a government shutdown is ... an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse," Obama said during an appearance at a construction company in Rockville, Md.
Obama also called on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to put a "clean" spending bill on the floor with no health care restrictions, predicting it would pass and "the shutdown would end today."
Boehner "won't even let the bill get a yes or no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party," Obama said.
Default would be the result if Congress does not increase the debt ceiling by Oct. 17, Obama said, noting that the debt limit allows the government to borrow money to pay its debt.
Without the authority, the United States would see its credit rating drop, while Americans would see rises in interest rates that would curb economic activity across the world, said the president.
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An "economic shutdown" could lead to delays of Social Security checks and disability benefits, Obama said.
He told a crowd of supporters: "Falling pensions and home values and rising interest rates on things like mortgages and student loans -- all those things risk putting us back into a bad recession."
As the existing shutdown of government operations entered its third day, Obama again blamed Republican conservatives who want to gut the new health care bill.
"This whole thing is about one thing," Obama said. "The Republican obsessions with dismantling the Affordable Care Act."
The Republican-run House has passed temporary spending plans that include a one-year delay of Obama's health care law - a provision Obama and the Democratic-run Senate say is unacceptable. The Senate has rejected three attempts to pass a bill paying for government services while also trying to delay all or parts of the health care law.
Obama, who met with congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday night, repeated his stance that he would not negotiate health care and budget issues until the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is raised.
Republicans, meanwhile, called Obama's no-negotiation pledge an obstacle to his goals.
"Now we hear he's off campaigning today in Rockville, rather than sitting down to get this thing solved," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Md. "It's disappointing."
Boehner said that House Republicans "have sent bill after bill after bill to the Senate to keep the government open, and Democrats have rejected every one of them - refusing to even talk about our differences."
In urging Boehner to call a vote on a bill without health care restrictions, Obama said the "one way out of this reckless and damaging Republican shutdown" is a spending plan "with no partisan strings attached."
Referring to Tea Party Republicans, Obama said the impasse is due to "one faction of one party in one half of one branch of government."
Obama spoke less than an hour after the Treasury Department issued a report saying that a default could plunge the nation into a recession worse than the near-meltdown of the financial system in 2008.
In previous weeks, the Treasury Department has warned that the debt ceiling will be breached on Oct. 17.
David Jackson, USA TODAY