-Should Not Wait Until Next Year Before Raising Debt Limit
By Brai Esene
WASHINGTON (MNI) – President Barack Obama Wednesday issued a strong warning
to lawmakers, declaring his determination to break the cycle of near-crises that
have characterized recent efforts to raise the government’s debt limit.
“I want to send a very clear message to people here; we are not going to
play that game next year,” Obama said in remarks to business leaders.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Business Roundtable, Obama was referring
to unconfirmed reports that Republicans might agree to extend the Bush-era tax
cuts for the middle class while allowing those for the wealthiest to expire,
giving the GOP a stronger hand and more leverage in talks to raise the debt
ceiling next year.
“That is a bad strategy for America … and it is not a game that I will
play,” he warned.
The U.S. Treasury Department has said it expects to hit the debt limit at
the end of this year, after which it can employ extraordinary measures to extend
the government’s borrowing authority until around February or March 2013.
Harking back to the “catastrophe” that was the debt impasse of August 2011,
Obama said there is no worse uncertainty than the possibility that the United
States might default on its debt.
“We can’t afford to go there again,” he said. “When I hear some on the
other side suggesting — to resolve the possibility of a perpetual, or a
quarterly, debt ceiling crises — that there is a price to pay … we should not
accept going through that.”
The price will be paid by the American people, businesses and the economic
environment worldwide, Obama said.
The president said he will not go along if Congress gives any indication
that negotiations to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” will be tied to the debt
ceiling vote — taking the country to the brink of default once again.
“We’ve got to break that habit before it starts,” he said.
As for the ongoing budget talks, Obama said he has no objections to tax
reform or closing loopholes, but that spending cuts alone will not be enough.
The stand-off between both sides could be resolved “in about a week,” he
said, but requires the acknowledgment that a balanced approach is the way
–MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email: firstname.lastname@example.org