President Obama on Wednesday morning warned that if Republicans insist on setting the precedent of using negotiations over the debt limit as a political bargaining chip, they may not like it when the tables are turned and Democrats once again control the House of Representatives.
Speaking to the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C., Mr. Obama said to "flip the script" and imagine a Democratic majority that refused to increase the debt limit -- threatening to "default on the debt and cause a worldwide financial crisis," the president said -- unless corporate taxes were increased by 20 percent.
"That can't be a recipe for government," Mr. Obama said. "It would fundamentally change how government functions."
The president explained to the business leaders that's why he's said he refuses to negotiate over the debt limit.
"What I will not do is create a pattern whereby the full faith and credit of the United States becomes a bargaining chip," he said. "I have responsibilities at this point not just to the current generation but future generations."
The nation shouldn't go through "terrifying brinkmanship" every year, he added.
Moments before the president spoke, House Republicans confirmed they willto use the debt limit -- as well as the looming threat of a government shutdown -- as leverage in their attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said that when the House votes to raise the debt limit, it will include a provision in the legislation to delay parts of Obamacare for one year. "We aim to put a stop to Obamacare before it costs one more job or raises a family's out of pocket expenses one more dollar," he said.
If Congress fails to raise the debt limit by around mid-October, the government could risk defaulting on its loans.
Separately, Congress must pass a bill to extend government funding by Sept. 30 or risk letting parts of the government shut down. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that the House this week will vote on a spending bill to keep the government open for a couple more months while defunding Obamacare and locking in the low spending levels set earlier this year by the sequestration.
Turning to the debt limit -- the more serious of the two looming deadlines -- Boehner noted that lawmakers have for decades used the debt limit as a starting point for fiscal negotiations. Mr. Obama did so himself two years ago, when Washington ultimately agreed to pass the Budget Control Act.
"This year's not going to be any different," Boehner said.
Mr. Obama, however, contended that House Republicans this year have taken things too far.
Never before have congressional leaders attempted to "extort a president or a governing party and [tried] to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget, and have nothing to do with the debt," into a discussion over the debt limit.
"We have not seen this in the past, that a budget is contingent on eliminating a law that was voted on... [and is] two weeks from being fully implemented," Mr. Obama continued. "We've never seen that become the issue around a budget battle."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president's remarks to the Business Roundtable were directed at "highly influential, card carrying Republican Party members who have the ear of Republican lawmakers." Besides reaching out to influential businessmen, Carney said Mr. Obama has done all he can to work with Republicans on budget issues.
"He has used the powers that are available to him to try to convince, persuade, cajole Republicans into doing the sensible thing, which is not threatening to shut the government down, not threatening to default, but working with him on a compromise," he said. "And what they said they wanted, when it came to some of their demands on entitlement reforms, he gave. And then they walked away, and didn't come back."