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Obama demands quick action to raise debt limit

President Barack Obama speaks during his final news conference of his first term in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.

President Barack Obama speaks during his final news conference of his first term in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama demanded on Monday that lawmakers raise the nation's $16.4 trillion federal debt limit quickly, warning that "Social Security benefits and veterans' checks will be delayed" if they don't and cautioning Republicans not to insist on concessions in exchange.

"They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy," he said at the final news conference of his first term. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better decide quickly because time is running short."

"We are not a deadbeat nation," Obama declared, less than a week away from taking the oath of office for a second term.

The president also said he will soon ask Congress to enact new gun legislation in the wake of the shootings a month ago that left 20 elementary students dead in Newtown, Conn. Facing stiff opposition from the National Rifle Association, he conceded lawmakers may not approve everything he asks for.

Among the proposals under consideration are a ban on assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. Obama said he would unveil his proposals next week. He was meeting after his news conference with Vice President Joe Biden, his point man in producing gun control measures to present to Congress.

Obama made his remarks as a new Congress was settling in for its own new term, Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in the Senate.

Lawmakers face three distinct deadlines before April 1. The debt limit must be raised to prevent a default, a series of across-the-board spending cuts is to kick in on March 1, and funding for most government programs will run out on March 27.

Obama virtually dared Republicans to let the government shut down rather than renew funding beyond March 27. "It will hurt the economy," he said emphatically.

The president opened his news conference with a statement by saying that a vote to increase the debt limit "does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already agreed to. These are bills we've already racked up and we need to pay them."

Jabbing at Republicans, he quoted House Speaker John Boehner's remarks of two years ago that allowing a default on U.S. obligations — the practical effect of failing to raise the debt limit — would be a disaster.

Obama said he was willing to consider future deficit cuts, but only if they are done independently from a vote to raise the $16.4 trillion debt limit.

In a blunt rebuttal to Republicans who say they will not agree to any more tax increases, the president said taxes and spending both must be on the table.

He said he is "open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to protect them for future generations," and wants to close tax loopholes at the same time.

Obama spoke less than a week before his inauguration for a second term, and several days after he signed legislation that narrowly averted a "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax increases.

Combined with other bills he signed earlier in the term, he said he and Congress have reduced deficits by about $2.5 trillion over a decade, somewhat less than the $4 trillion he said is necessary to get them down to a manageable size.

"I'm happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits in a sensible way," he said, but added repeatedly he wasn't willing to let congressional Republicans use the debt limit as leverage in negotiations over spending cuts.

Failure to raise the debt limit would put the United States into a first-ever default, a step that Obama said could "blow up the economy."

Congressional Democrats have recently urged the president to lift the debt limit unilaterally. He said — as he has before — that he won't do it, that Congress had voted for the spending that resulted in federal borrowing, and should now agree to pay the bill.

When it came to gun legislation, the president sought to reassure sportsmen and hunters that they have nothing for worry about.

"The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the 2nd Amendment. The issue is whether there are sensible steps we can take so that the individual in Newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion. Certainly we can do something about that," he said.

Short of legislation, the president said there were administrative actions he could take. Asked to provide an example, he said, "How we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals and how we track that more effectively."

Comments

Racc 1 year, 10 months ago

the goverenment should not have gotten a raise!! they should have to work just like we do. then they will see how hard it is in the real world!!! So sick of my check going down cause that man in the white house said he would not raise taxes and guess what HE DID!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 10 months ago

"Just Say NO!"

Of course His Royal Majesty "demands" His way. That's how He rolls. Meanwhile He has absolutely no intention to slow or reduce spending. "We don't have a spending problem" He says. WOW how stupid can one man be?

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VietVet1 1 year, 10 months ago

"We are not a deadbeat nation," Obama declared,

Duh, and why the $16.4 trillion debt?

CUT SPENDING IDIOT!!!!

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jglass 1 year, 10 months ago

Let's see, across the board spending cuts? Hmmm, why did congress and whoever else get raises? They should not have gotten raises and they should be on the same health care plan as everyone else. He is entitled to his vacations, but heavens let him pay for them not the taxpayers. I think they have been on vacation the full 4 years he has been in office. And, we had our pay checks cut the beginning of the year...............so Obama, you need to stop your spending and think wisely about how to make the cuts.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 10 months ago

No more Monetary Gifts to our Drunk Uncle!

The National Debt will exceed $21 Trillion by the end of Obama's next term. It could possibly reach $25 Trillion 'cause He don't give a S*** about it !!

If you really want to know what I think, I think Obama WANTS to load this country with as much debt as He possibly can prior to ending His "time in office" as part of His Master Plan to Fundamentally Change America Forever. Yes, I really do believe it and there is not a shred of evidence to the contrary contained in His actions thus far.

Saw a report on the so-named Affordable Care Act this morning that predicted Health Care Insurance Costs and Premiums increase over the next 24 months of 50%. How's that working out for you?

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B4it 1 year, 10 months ago

It is amazing how little common sense there is in this Obama administration, and in our Congress. Someone in the press should ask Obama how a family should be able to afford the recent payroll tax increase. If there is a common sense and logical answer that some of there expenses need to be cut to match their income, then there should be an immediate response back to him = then why can't our governement do the same thing and cut expenses to match the income.

And why is it that Obama wants to hold Social Security and Veteran's payments hostage when he does not get his way? Sounds like he is trying to use the fear tactic. It is not his money. It is our money that he is wasting. Was he not smart enough to see the debt limit becoming an issue prior to the deadline? If he did, why did he not take action sooner to prevent a showdown? Lots of questions and so little answers from this irresponsible Obama admin.

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waltspecht 1 year, 10 months ago

Of course he wants immediate action. Doesn't want anyone to have the time to think it through, or write an honest to God real letter of complaint to our elected officials. They are held in much higher regard than phone calls and e-mails. Then again Bishop will just say what would Jesus do. and do what Obama wants. A true Christian there don't you know.

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Cartman 1 year, 10 months ago

"Obama demands..." Well there's something new. lol.

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

The Dumbocrats called Romney a liar. but I am not going to call Obuma a liar...just a man that doesn't tell the truth.

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oldster 1 year, 10 months ago

Sixteen Trillion, what do you get? Another day older and a deeper in debt.......

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 10 months ago

Sing on, Mr. Johnny.......we miss 'ya!

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bigbob 1 year, 10 months ago

This fool is more dangerous to this country than Hitler was.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 10 months ago

This is what is wrong with America. If you don't have the money to pay your current bills, you just get another credit card. How about curbing your spending?

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