By Kathleen Hennessey
8:53 AM EDT, September 18, 2013
WASHINGTON -- President Obama will try to enlist help from business leaders in his standoff with congressional Republicans over government spending and a looming vote to raise the debt limit, a White House official said.
At a meeting with the Business Roundtable on Wednesday, Obama will ask corporate leaders to urge Republicans to give up plans to negotiate cuts in government spending, or a repeal of Obama's healthcare law, in return for an increase in the debt limit, said the official, who asked not to be named discussing the president's remarks before the meeting.
"The president will ask the business community to help send the message to Congress that a default would be disastrous for our economy and for businesses across the country," the official said.
Obama's planned remarks come as he and his GOP opponents on Capitol Hill are barreling toward two major fiscal deadlines. Lawmakers must pass legislation to keep the government open after Sept. 30, or face a shutdown. A few weeks later, the government is set to reach the limit it can borrow, if Congress does not increase it to cover spending it has already approved.
The president and the Republican-led House have faced this fight before, but this time the White House is saying it will not negotiate to raise the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is seeking deficit-reduction measures in return for an increase in the debt limit, while some of his fellow Republicans are pushing for a bigger -- and unlikely -- concession from the White House: repeal of the president’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
Obama will make the case Wednesday that the standoff is being driven by "extreme" members of the Republican Party and is an "irresponsible" threat to the fiscal health of the country, the official said.
A Boehner spokesman argued that Obama was hyping the threat.
"No one is threatening to default," said Brendan Buck. "The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our debt crisis. Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt-limit increase, and this time should be no different."
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