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Obama demands quick action from Congress to raise debt limit

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

LAST UPDATED: 07:23 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2013

WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama demanded today that Congress raise the 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," he declared.

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 opened his news conference with a statement noting 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."

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.

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serious wrote:
Anybody check the number of times he says, ME, I, MINE--Sir, it should be US, WE!!! Unite rather than separate!!
on January 14,2013 | 06:16AM
Mediocrates wrote:
strangest comment ever... the guy is talking about what he will or will not do as President. I imagine if he used "we" you'd attack him for either being daft enough to speak on everyone's behalf or for using the "royal we". get serious
on January 14,2013 | 07:35AM
OldDiver wrote:
President Obama is correct. The Republican Congress added trillions to the national debt by approving two wars which were unpaid for. approving Medicare Part D which was unpaid for, approved tax cuts for the rich and multinational corporations which were unpaid for and added hundreds of billions in corporate subsidies which were unpaid for. Raising the debt ceiling is simply paying the debts the Republican Congress created by going on a spending spree during the George W Bush administration. It does not increase spending, only Congress can increase spending.
on January 14,2013 | 08:11AM
HD36 wrote:
The Debt Ceiling has always been raised since 1917 by both parties in an effort to grow government.
on January 14,2013 | 08:21AM
serious wrote:
We--that's the reason he has a cabinet!! Like Carter, he tries to micro manage everything. Reagan had businesspeople in his cabinet and they gave advice and ran their departments--the way a corporation does with its CEO and Board of Directors!!!
on January 14,2013 | 09:49AM
frontman wrote:
DO NOT raise the debt limit one penny until there is three dollars in REAL cuts for ONE dollar is funding. Stop the madness NOW
on January 14,2013 | 07:37AM
HD36 wrote:
Wishful thinking, The US has raised the debt ceiling over 70 times since it was enacted around 1917. Prior to that, the government could only spend what it collected in taxes. Then came the Federal Reserve Bank and WWI. We needed more money, and fast, so they enacted a debt limit.
on January 14,2013 | 07:50AM
OldDiver wrote:
The debt ceiling has nothing to do with spending. It is about paying back money borrowed by Congress.
on January 14,2013 | 08:12AM
HD36 wrote:
Is that not spending? Anytime you raise debt you spend. Ever heard of someone borrowing money from their credit card to save in a bank?
on January 14,2013 | 08:22AM
pastormatt wrote:
That is why the president's lecture sounded so hollow. The only people that actually buy what he is selling are those who are so wrapped up in his persona that they can't see the reality of life.
on January 14,2013 | 08:35AM
pastormatt wrote:
Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling previously. That was in the news conference. The problem is that Obama is not willing to compromise. He already got more taxes from all Americans just a few weeks ago, now he wants more. This is all a failure of his leadership and arrogance. He is set that he is all-wise and that his is the only true way. He continues to make a mockery of the title and position of President of the United States and his leadership will leave our nation in a worse (and it already has) position than before.
on January 14,2013 | 08:26AM
Kawipoo wrote:
I am amazed at how clueless you are M¥ff Diver.
on January 14,2013 | 08:50AM
Paulh808 wrote:
The most ridiculous post ever by a serial ridiculous poster!
on January 14,2013 | 10:08AM
AhiPoke wrote:
"The debt ceiling has nothing to do with spending." Nothing, really??? That's like saying, raising my credit card limit has nothing to do with how I spend.
on January 14,2013 | 10:25AM
frontman wrote:
Who elected this muslim from chicago, anyway???????
on January 14,2013 | 09:38AM
Bdpapa wrote:
No, do not raise the debt ceiling!
on January 14,2013 | 06:18AM
Mediocrates wrote:
right why should we pay our bills?
on January 14,2013 | 07:33AM
HD36 wrote:
We're not. By raising the debt ceiling we're creating more bills by borrowing more money. Obama's Orwellian style of speach is a work of art. In fact he wants to give himself unilateral authority to raise the ceiling.
on January 14,2013 | 07:53AM
OldDiver wrote:
You clearly don't understand the debate before Congress.
on January 14,2013 | 08:12AM
HD36 wrote:
You're clearly dubfounded by Obama's Orwellian language.
on January 14,2013 | 08:23AM
pastormatt wrote:
He does understand it. The problem is that Obama doesn't. Raising our debt ceiling will only continue the patterns of bad spending without a reckoning. If I was to keep transferring balances to other credit cards to make it another few months, sooner or later I will have to pay the piper. Obama won't negotiate for cuts, only more taxes. Increasing the debt ceiling will just embolden his administration to continue the idiocy.
on January 14,2013 | 08:29AM
Mediocrates wrote:
right, we should never pay our bills! brilliant
on January 14,2013 | 07:36AM
HD36 wrote:
By raising the debt ceiling, we're telling our creditors that we can't pay them back, that's why we have to borrow more money. Because we can print money, and pay off old bills from more borrowed money, the future value of that money will be worth alot less, if anything, when it matures. The classic Ponzi Scheme.
on January 14,2013 | 07:46AM
pastormatt wrote:
Aren't the politicians and lobbyists the one's who invented the Ponzi Scheme and made millions from it?
on January 14,2013 | 08:40AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
If the USA was a private citizen, a credit card company would close their account and send their account to a collection agency and demand full payment of the account. Imagine if one got away with paying $200 per month and then was asked to pay the entire balance, or else? Not all credit card companies do that though. Some allow for payments over time, including lowering interest rates, although the account gets closed, if one defaults. Therefore it is very, very unique that the Head of a Household, in this case Obama, can almost "demand" that he be given a blank check, and not allow their house go into default. If the USA was a customer of a credit card company, the USA would already be in default.
on January 14,2013 | 06:24AM
Kate53 wrote:
You do realize that Congress has already approved the spending. They are the ones running up the credit card bill and then refusing to raise the debt ceiling to pay for it.
on January 14,2013 | 06:43AM
OldDiver wrote:
Exactly Kate53. Most people here cleariy don't understand the debate.
on January 14,2013 | 08:14AM
pastormatt wrote:
Therefore not raising the debt ceiling will force them to stop spending money emotionally or according to ideologies but responsibly. This isn't about paying our creditors but is about not be allowed to spend any more until we get our finances settled. This is the only way real change will come about. Debates and grandstanding before cameras only foster greater division. The two sides will only come to a compromise when they have no other option.
on January 14,2013 | 08:38AM
hawaiikone wrote:
od, many, including Boehner, understand perfectly what is at stake. Unfortunately, too many think this ceiling is the time draw the line in the sand, encouraged to do so by the recent promises of Obama, who intentionally picks his battlefields. Smart? No doubt. Wise for us as a nation? Essentially suicide for us to continue to allow unprecedented spending. Who truly cares? Not enough of us as yet, but eventually it will become very real, and incredibly difficult to deal with. The proverbial can is almost out of road.
on January 14,2013 | 08:52AM
Kawipoo wrote:
So keep borrowing money and go further into debt. Obama has had 4 years to reduce spending but continues to spend and blame Bush.
on January 14,2013 | 08:54AM
serious wrote:
Yes, when the D's had both Houses, they taxed and spent and now we are stuck with it.
on January 14,2013 | 09:53AM
IAmSane wrote:
Pretty much every county has a national debt. We do have the highest debt in the world, though.
on January 14,2013 | 06:59AM
HD36 wrote:
True, and another major difference is that Japan for example, owes its debt to its own citizens, while the US owes its debt to foreign countries and the Federal Reserve Bank, which is a private bank.
on January 14,2013 | 07:58AM
realist3463 wrote:
Fear mongering at its finest. There are more than enough pork, duplicative programs and others programs that have out lived their intent to solve the country's "fiscal crisis". Even a modicum of leadership would work wonders but he is totally lacking. Do not raise the debt ceiling and next time, VOTE THEM ALL OUT.
on January 14,2013 | 06:35AM
bigman50 wrote:
According to Obama's news conference - "House Republicans have a 'suspicion' about seniors receiving medical care, a 'suspicion' about seniors receiving Social Security and a 'suspicion' about poor children getting enough food to eat. I guess suspicion is the new buzz word that says they not against it they just don't like it. All untrue, of course, but mathematics doesn't seem to be our President's strong suit as he doesn't see leaving these programs unmodified will bankrupt our country and those people who are being helped by these programs will have nothing.
on January 14,2013 | 06:54AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Notice the first on the table for cuts are social security benefits and veterans' checks. We paid for social security and veterans earned their benefits and disability payments. Again, no mention of Free Trade Agreements which produces goods in other countries with no tariffs and value added taxes, nor foreign and military aid, particularly to countries that are not our friends or allies. Why don't we put the President's and Congress' salaries, retirements and benefits on the table, and consider cutting senators from each state to one, and also reducing the number of representatives in the House? We're stuck with BO for four more years, but we do get to reelect or not reelect current members of Congress during this time period.
on January 14,2013 | 07:02AM
serious wrote:
That's a scare tactic to once again divide the country and parties. He's the best I've ever seen for that!!
on January 14,2013 | 09:55AM
Nevadan wrote:
This is negotiation? This Obama is not the Obama of 2008 (before he became president). He has become arrogant.
on January 14,2013 | 07:49AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I doubt that Obama "became arrogant". He probably was already but, like most politicians, hid his true self to get elected. Remember, he is a Chicago democrat.
on January 14,2013 | 12:03PM
jussayin wrote:
He runs the federal government with no approved budget for about four years. He doesn't care about how much federal dollars we spend. So let's up the 'credit card' limit so we can keep spending and spending. And Obama was the one who lectured us 3 years ago that we the citizens should live within our means? Hmmm. I guess he wants to be popular today and figures when things get really bad for such programs as medicare and social security, he'll be long gone and won't get blamed. Younger folks, I'd start to worry about Obama if I were you. Unless spending is controlled now, your entitlements will be in jeopardy as you reach 60 something.
on January 14,2013 | 07:50AM
aomohoa wrote:
How many times can we raise the debt limit?? I don't think they should punish people on Social Security, unless they are on a phoney disability, because most of us have earned it. Why can't we do something about people scamming the welfare system forever and why do we have to keep extending unemployment?? I have talked to people that don't even bother to look for a job because they get it still.
on January 14,2013 | 07:56AM
HD36 wrote:
We've raised it about 70 times so far. It's getting harder to convince foreign countries to buy our 30 yr US bonds, so the Federal Reserve is buying $45 billion dollars a month. This is also an effort to keep interest rates low. If they rise to an average, there is no way the government can pay the interest on the debt. They would have to print more money. Expanding the money supply has always led to inflation. In this case, we will go off the mother of all cliffs. Bonds drop, interest rates rise, and the dollar crashes.
on January 14,2013 | 08:16AM
Pacej001 wrote:
The Social Security Disability Trust Fund will, if projections are correct, be exhausted in less than five years. Since the recession began, in 2008, annual applications for SS disability have gone up at least 40 percent. An epidemic of bad backs? Don't think so. This "trust fund" going bust is just one of many "surprises" in store for Obama supporters who think we can just ignore the mathematics of our debt and deficit.
on January 14,2013 | 08:19AM
serious wrote:
It's going bust alright--that's how Clinton "balanced the budget".
on January 14,2013 | 09:56AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Boehner right now is the best thing Obama has going for him. He's struggling to rally enough support to temporarily raise the ceiling, realizing a default would injure us far worse than simply postponing the spending cut fight until the sequestration kicks in. While philosophically I agree with the tea party's insistence on addressing out of control spending, now is not the time to try and force the issue. We're witnessing important reasons for instituting term limits, as too many legislators are allowing their re election concerns to influence their voting decisions. And unfortunately it appears the tea party's troops are the most guilty.
on January 14,2013 | 08:02AM
Paulh808 wrote:
So it's all the tea parties fault? Those people asking for low taxes and less spending and smaller government huh! You sir have been brain washed if you think the blame falls anywhere but with our governments addiction on spending money that we don't have, wake up before it is too late.
on January 14,2013 | 11:30AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Hey, you're preaching to the choir. We absolutely need to cut spending, but without a team approach the conservative voice goes unheard. Obama chooses battlefields very carefully, and with the media's help vilifies the opposition. Boehner is having trouble getting the tea party guys to understand that this ceiling thing is not the right time to dig in, as the damage to our economy by defaulting would be tremendous and be put squarely on the republicans. A couple of months from now over a trillion in mandated cuts are on the table, which would be a far better time to draw the line, as any collateral damage would be shared by both parties. And soon after that, another vote to fund the government comes up, which would be another great time to take a stand. Spending has to get under control, and we need to be smarter as to how we go about forcing it to happen.
on January 14,2013 | 12:22PM
AhiPoke wrote:
Unfortunately, while I agree that we can't default on our loans, politicians will never fix the problem, spending, without facing a crisis. Politicians only know how to spend and I'm speaking about both parties. The Tea Party, didn't create this problem because they never approved any spending but they have drawn a line in the sand. That's much more than most of our spenders, err politicians, have ever done. As stated by P808, our governments are addicted to spending. They continue to do so because that's what gets them re-elected. All the while we are headed to the point where we won't be able to pay it back. Sort of like where Greece, Spain and other countries are at. As the saying goes, you can either pay me now or pay me later. We are headed to where we can't pay, period. It's just become a matter of whether it happens now or we pass on that crisis to our children.
on January 14,2013 | 01:12PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The debt ceiling issue is confusing to most Americans. Here is a way to look at it that perhaps will provide a better understanding. Let’s say you come home from work to find that a sewer line break in your neighborhood caused sewage to back up into your house all the way to the ceiling, what would you do? Raise the ceiling or remove the s..t? People with half a brain would remove the s..t, but Obama wants to raise the ceiling so he can accumulate more of it.
on January 14,2013 | 08:23AM
toomuchpilikia wrote:
OB1 does not need approval from congress...He will probably executive order this one through just because...
on January 14,2013 | 08:29AM
Ronin006 wrote:
American’s falling for Obama’s rhetoric about the need to raise the debt ceiling need to put the situation in perspective. Consider this: * U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000 * Fed budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000 * New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 * National debt: $ 16,271,000,000,000 * Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000 Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget: * Annual family income: $ 21,700 * Money the family spent: $ 38,200 * New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500 * Outstanding balance on the credit card: $ 162,710 * Total budget cuts so far: $ 385 Do you get it now, America? We are in BIG trouble and Obama wants to make it worse.
on January 14,2013 | 08:35AM
HD36 wrote:
Nice analogy. Try adding in the unfunded liabilities of social security and medicare and its mind blowing.
on January 14,2013 | 11:53AM
mcc wrote:
on January 14,2013 | 08:50AM
SteveToo wrote:
KING OBAMA has spoken, scaring old folks again. Why not cut back other NON-ESSENTIAL funding instead of trying to scare the old folks???????????? President Barack Obama demanded today that Congress raise the 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.
on January 14,2013 | 09:19AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Taxes on sales of guns and ammo have gone up 58% in the last 3 weeks. Well done, Mr. President, that was great economic stimulus!
on January 14,2013 | 10:57AM
ichiban wrote:
Get rid of the Debt Ceiling law. No one in Congress or the Executive Office abide by its rule anyway. Every time the debt ceiling issue comes up, OUR government in DC turns it into a p_____g contest. Lower the cost of running the government. Don't cater to lobbyists and their "pork" agenda, have stricter guidelines in military spending also including intelligence gathering. On Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security: YOU the government shoved these programs down our throat, YOU the government forced (coerced) us to pay for the programs by levying a tax on us that was automatically withdrawn from every paycheck we received. AND YOU the government took the SS Monies and put it into the General fund to balance the budget. Social Security was never and is never intended to be an entitlement program. It was intended to be a "safety net" for unemployed workers. This was enacted in the early 30's after the Great Depression. If YOU the government had left the Social Security fund alone instead of commingling it with the General Fund, Social Security would not be in this precipitous condition. YOU the government created Medicare/Medicaid like an entitlement program, LIVE WITH IT. Don't put the onus on the people. Be accountable. There are some things money won't fix.
on January 14,2013 | 11:04AM
HD36 wrote:
And stop paying government workers a cost of living allowance.
on January 14,2013 | 11:54AM
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