President Obama blasted “irresponsible” Republicans for holding the country hostage over an ideological battle, and remained steadfast in his refusal to negotiate over the debt ceiling on Tuesday.
“The greatest nation shouldn’t have to get permission from a few irresponsible members of Congress each month to keep the government open,” he said during a press conference. “We can’t afford these manufactured crises every few months.”
Obama reiterated that he will only talk with Republicans after the threat of government shutdown and debt default were taken off the table. Earlier in the day, the president made those same points in a phone call with Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Now in the second week of a government shutdown, the country teeters on the brink of a much more dangerous crisis – breaching the debt ceiling. The Treasury says the U.S. will run out of money to pay its debts on Oct. 17. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that Congress is “playing with fire” if they fail to raise the debt limit by then.
Lew will testify at a Thursday hearing on the nation’s borrowing limit, where he will try to convince lawmakers to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
But whether the parties can come to a solution in the nick of time – whether that’s in nine days or two weeks – is anyone’s guess.
Obama ripped into Republicans for downplaying the consequences of a debt default, saying an economic shutdown would be “dramatically worse” than a temporary government closure.
“If Congress refuses to raise what’s called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years,” he said. A debt default would “disrupt markets, it would undermine the world’s confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy.”
He warned that breaching the debt ceiling could result in a drop in home values, a rise in borrowing costs for mortgages and student loans, and could even lead to another recession. “The American people have already fought too hard and too long to come back from one crisis, only to see a handful of more extreme Republicans in the House of Representatives precipitate another one,” Obama said.
Senate Democrats plan to introduce a “clean” bill increasing the debt limit this week, aides told NBC News.
The measure would aim to extend the country’s borrowing authority until after the midterm elections. The bill could be filed as early as today.
But Boehner made clear in an interview on Sunday that the House would not raise the debt ceiling without some concessions from the White House.
“We are not going to pass a clean debt limit. The votes are not there in the House,” the Republican House Speaker said. “The president is risking default.”
On Monday, Obama pressured Boehner to bring a vote to the House floor to end the government shutdown, voicing skepticism over the House Speaker’s claim that a clean government spending bill would not pass.
“My very strong suspicion is there are enough votes there” to pass the government funding legislation, he said.