President Barack Obama was clear Monday: Either Congress should raise the debt ceiling or give him the authority to do so.
The president said again and again that he will not negotiate on the debt limit at a Monday press conference that spanned just three topics, two odd metaphors, and more than 45 minutes.
“Now, the other congressionally imposed deadline coming up is the so-called debt ceiling, something most Americans hadn’t even heard of before two years ago,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “So I want to be clear about this: The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.”
Politico reported Monday House Republicans are “seriously entertaining” measures that include default or government shutdown to achieve some kind of spending cuts in the upcoming debt ceiling negotiations.
Obama, who voted against increasing the debt ceiling as a senator in 2006, compared—at length—the debt ceiling negotiations to dining and dashing. The president also compared Republican tactics to holding “a gun at the head of the American people” one month after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people,” Obama said. “The threat that unless we get our way, unless you gut Medicare or Medicaid or, you know, otherwise slash things that the American people don’t believe should be slashed, that we’re going to threaten to wreck the entire economy.”
One of the other two topics the president fielded questions on was gun violence and the forthcoming gun control recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden.
House Speaker John Boehner noted the “consequences” of not increasing the debt ceiling in a statement released after the press conference, but also emphasized the importance of America’s spending problems.
“The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time,” Boehner said. “The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved.”
“Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future,” the statement continues. “The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same.”