Obama Calls Efforts to Defund Health Law Extortion

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It's that time of year again - time for another fight over funding the government. Oct. 1 marks the start of the new fiscal year, and lawmakers must pass a bill to avoid a default on federal debts.

A House vote is expected Friday on an alternative Republican plan - legislation House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said would keep the government running through Dec. 15.

But it's not sitting well with the White House. Tied to the bill is a measure that would defund President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

"You have never seen in the history of the United States ... the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party, and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and have nothing to do with the debt," Obama charged.

"I think this is the time for us to say once and for all that we can't afford these kinds of plays," the president said. "I know the American people are tired of it. I'm tired of it, and I suspect you're tired of it, too."

But Republicans are calling this bill a line in the sand, and they say they won't vote for legislation to keep the government running unless killing the healthcare law is tied to it.

"Republicans who are in the House of Representatives right now, they all ran on either defunding or repealing Obamacare," Gayle Trotter, with the Independent Women's Forum, told CBN News.

Meanwhile, polls show more Americans oppose the Affordable
Care Act than support it.

According to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, 45 percent of Americans think Obamacare will hurt the health care system, while 31 percent don't think it will do any harm.

On Wednesday, House Republicans proposed their first comprehensive alternative to the healthcare law.

It would give tax incentives to consumers who buy their own insurance and would increase government funding for high-risk insurance pools.

Democrats, however, denounced the GOP plans.

"A group of extremists is threatening to hold our government hostage," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., charged.

But Boehner said the goal is not a government shutdown; it's to end a healthcare law that the American people don't want. After a House vote the bill will head to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

"The fight over here has been won. The House has voted 40 times to defund, change Obamacare, to repeal it. It's time for the Senate to have this fight," Boehner said.

A second measure, coming to the House floor as early as next week, would allow the Treasury to continue borrowing funds to pay debts for another year.

But it's also full of other requirements, including the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.