Obama Digs in Heels, Refuses to Negotiate Debt Ceiling
“If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear material wouldn’t get their paychecks,” he said.
Obama reminded Republicans that he won the November election partly on his approach to fiscal issues.
The debt limit is one of a trio of deadlines looming around the end of February, including automatic deep spending cuts that were temporarily put off in the “fiscal cliff” deal, and the end of a stopgap government funding measure.
A number of Republicans have said they would be willing to allow a U.S. debt default or a government shutdown to force the Obama administration to accept deeper spending cuts than the White House would like.
Obama’s unexpected news conference could have been a pre-emptive strike aimed at influencing strategy sessions among Republican lawmakers scheduled for later this week.
The Treasury Department warned on Monday that the United States will run out of ways to prevent a default in mid-February or early March if the $16.4 trillion ceiling on borrowing is not raised.
NOT A “DEADBEAT NATION”
Obama said he would agree to talk about steps to trim the U.S. budget deficit, but made clear he wants to keep that discussion separate from the debt ceiling increase.
“The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills,” he said. “We are not a deadbeat nation. And so there’s a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills.”
He held to his position that deficit reduction should include measures to raise revenue and not come from spending cuts alone.