Default would be worse than shutdown, warns Obama

Washington, Oct 3 (IANS) As the US government shutdown continued for the third day, President Barack Obama mounted a blistering attack on opposition Republicans, warning that a looming default on US debts would be worse than the closure.

"As reckless as a government shutdown is ... an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse," Obama said during an appearance Thursday at a construction company in Rockville, Maryland, just outside of Washington.

Default would result if Congress fails to raise the country's debt limit set to be breached by Oct 17, he pointed out.

With no end to the stalemate in sight, Obama suggested the Republican House Speaker John Boehner is preventing a vote on a funding bill because he doesn't want to anger "extremists" in his party, who want to derail his signature healthcare law.

Boehner is the only thing standing in the way of reopening the federal government, he said calling on the Republican leader to allow a reopening of the government with a quick vote on a "clean" bill free of extra demands.

Such a bill, he predicted, would pass despite the objections of Tea Party "extremists" in the Republican Party who want "partisan strings attached" to a spending bill.

Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected three attempts by the Republican-run House to pass a bill paying for government services while also trying to defund or delay all or parts of the healthcare law.

"This whole thing is about one thing," Obama said. "The Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act."

The longer the shutdown goes on, the worse the impact on the US economy will be, Obama said as the Treasury Department warned amid another impasse over raising the country's debt-limit that mere prospect of default endangers the economy.

"Political brinksmanship that engenders even the prospect of a default can be disruptive to financial markets and American businesses and families," the Treasury Department said in a report released Thursday.

Obama held an hour long meeting Wednesday with Boehner and three other top Congressional leaders seeking passage of a stopgap spending measure and a debt-ceiling increase, but failed to get a deal.

The Wednesday's meeting also attended by Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor, Democrat Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi yielded no breakthrough on the budget crisis.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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