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Barack Obama accuses Republicans of being reckless

United States President Barack Obama accused the Republicans on Tuesday of shutting down the government over an ‘‘ideological crusade’’ to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.

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'Shutdown did not have to happen'

US President Barack Obama blames Republicans for an "ideological crusade” and urges lawmakers to keep government running.

Congress appeared no closer to reaching a deal as Democrats and Republicans remained deadlocked even as the government shutdown put 800,000 workers on unpaid leave and closed parts of federal agencies across the country.

Republicans kept firm on their refusal to fund the government unless the President rolled back his healthcare law, large parts of which went into force. Mr Obama and his Democrat allies held their ground as well, insisting they would not negotiate over ‘‘ObamaCare’’ as part of the budget talks.

‘‘As long as I am President, I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hardworking Americans,’’ Mr Obama said.

Appearing in the White House Rose Garden the US President accused Republicans of taking the government hostage in order to sabotage his signature healthcare law: “This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.

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“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.

“In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.”

"They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of ...
"They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans": US President Barack Obama. Photo: AP Photo

Earlier, Mr Obama said in a letter to the country’s federal workers that Congress had treated them ‘‘like a punching bag’’.

Both sides are braced to see who the American public blames for the shutdown, which is estimated to be costing the economy $US300 million ($320 million) a day. Initial opinion polls make encouraging reading for the White House, with a Quinnipiac survey finding that 72 per cent of Americans are opposed to the Republican strategy of halting government unless ObamaCare was delayed.

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, offered to begin talks with the Senate but was turned down by Democrat senators who said negotiations would lead nowhere.

‘‘Rejecting the House-passed effort to go to conference, Senate Democrats today slammed the door on reopening the federal government by refusing to talk,’’ Mr Boehner said.

As long as I am president, I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party

Congressmen from districts with large numbers of federal employees came under intense pressure to come to a deal. Representative Scott Rigell, from Virginia, said his party had ‘‘fought the good fight’’, but urged his leaders to give in to Democrat demands for a ‘‘clean’’ budget bill that would not affect ObamaCare.

Telegraph, London