Hillary Clinton warns Republicans against government shutdown

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 24, 2013 in New York City. Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

NEW YORK Hillary Rodham Clinton warned congressional Republicans on Tuesday that there would be consequences if they pursue a government shutdown to circumvent President Barack Obama's health care law, saying it "wouldn't be the worst thing for Democrats."

Clinton said Obama's sweeping health care law was "a very important step forward" to provide affordable coverage and reduce the cost of health care across the nation. Recalling her husband's first term in the White House, the former first lady suggested that congressional Republicans faced blame after the government shutdowns that marked the political fights of the mid-1990s and could face a similar judgment from voters.

"I think they ought to go back and read history. Because I will just say that it wouldn't be the worst thing for Democrats if they try to shut the government down," Mrs. Clinton said during a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative. "We've seen that movie before."

The former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate spoke shortly before Obama joined with former President Bill Clinton here to discuss the implementation of the health care law. The annual meeting brings together political, business and philanthropic leaders from around the globe during the start of the United Nations General Assembly.

Since departing the State Department in February, Clinton has largely avoided partisan politics in her speeches but offered pointed criticism here of the budget battle in Congress and efforts to increase the nation's debt ceiling enough to cover the government's bills.

"This president is not going to agree to defund health care. We're on the path to beginning the implementation. If they want to shut the government down, that's on their head and they're responsibility," she said. "And if they go even further, which is deeply distressing, and for the first time lead our country into a default on our obligations, that is not just partisan politics that is going at the heart of our credibility around the world."

Clinton said a default on the nation's debt would lead to "some unnecessary self-inflicted wounds that this country does not deserve. We deserve better from our political leadership no matter what party they're in."

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