Drawing even clearer battle lines with Republicans, the Obama administration on Wednesday stated flatly it will not accept any further delays in implementing Obamacare.
“The Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. The president signed it. The Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional. It is providing benefits to millions of Americans today,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, who also offered a one-word answer when asked if the president is willing to use Obamacare delays as a bargaining chip with Republicans: “No.”
The comments came as House GOP leaders announced they will use the looming fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling as leverage to push Obamacare down the road.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said his party plans to call for a one-year delay of the law in exchange for a one-year extension of the nation’s ability to borrow money.
The debt-ceiling fight is one half of the coming showdown between House Republicans and the president; the other half centers around a new spending plan for fiscal year 2014.
The current fiscal year expires at the end of the month.
Mr. Obama has said he will not negotiate, in any way, shape or form, over the debt ceiling, and his press secretary accused Republicans of putting politics — the repeal or defunding of Obamacare, wildly popular among conservatives — above the nation’s financial well-being.
“They should not harm average folks out there in order to participate in that exercise. They should do their jobs by making sure the central functions of government are funded,” Mr. Carney said.
The administration opened the door to the idea earlier this year by postponing the law’s insurance mandate for employers in a major concession to the business community.