Obama, looking feisty and loose for the first time in weeks, served up some new lines and a harsh assessment of his Republican opposition on Capitol Hill on Friday at a Ford plant in Liberty, Mo.
"They're not focused on you. They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me," the president said from the plant near Kansas City.
The speech was billed as another installment of Obama’s push to ensure the long-term stability of the middle class. But the remarks served a more immediate purpose.
Obama spoke hours after the House passed legislation that would extend government funding until Dec. 15, avoiding a shutdown at the end of the month. But the measure also cut spending for the Affordable Care Act, leaving it no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled
But the spending bill isn’t the only clock ticking for
Obama explained the predicament in an extended truck metaphor on Friday.
"I go into a Ford dealership, drive off with a new F-150. Unless I paid cash, I've still got to pay for it each month. I can't just say, you know, I'm not going to make my car payment this month," Obama said. "That's what Congress is threatening to do, just saying, 'I'm not going to pay the bills.' ... So if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we're deadbeats. If we fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin."
Obama has made similar analogies before and polling shows Americans largely agree that not raising the limit would be harmful to the economy. Even so, Americans are split over whether Congress should raise the limit.
This is the third major standoff over raising the debt ceiling. In the last two, the White House and congressional leaders have negotiated over spending cuts and tax increases to strike a deal. The White House now says it will no longer negotiate, leaving Congress to either send the president legislation raising the limit or default.
It's not yet clear how the White House plans to hold to that threat, but Obama outlined his public case on Friday.
"I am not going to allow anyone to harm this country's reputation. I'm not going to allow them to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people just so they can make an ideological point," he said. "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 from crisis to crisis. Put our focus back on where it should be, on you, the American people. … I mean, I don't know, it's like they do this every six months. Isn't it?"