POLITICS -- July 11, 2011 at 12:38 PM ET
Obama: No Stopgap Extension on Debt Ceiling
Updated 1:50 p.m. ET | President Obama said Monday that a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling will not be possible if Republicans are unwilling to compromise, but he declared: "We are going to get this done" by the Aug. 2 deadline.
"I don't see a path to a deal if they don't budge. Period," Mr. Obama said.
After a Sunday meeting at the White House failed to produce a deal, the president vowed to meet with congressional leaders daily, and through next weekend if necessary, "until we get this thing resolved."
President Obama warned of another recession and more job losses if a deal isn't struck.
"The good news is all the leaders continue to believe, rightly, that it is not acceptable for us not to raise the debt ceiling" and default on debts, he said. "All of us agree that we should use this opportunity to do something useful on debt and deficit."
At a Monday afternoon news conference before heading back to the White House for more talks, House Speaker John Boehner said he agrees with the president that the debt limit must be raised, but that the two biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement are "out-of-control entitlement spending" and the tax code.
Boehner said the House could not pass a bill with tax hikes in it, and he said that no tax increases have ever been on the table in debt negotiations.
The president expressed frustration with the political maneuvering behind that talks, reiterating his theme that both sides must take on "sacred cows" in order to create a viable compromise."Now is the time to deal with these issues. If not now, when? I've been hearing from my Republican friends for some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debt and deficits in a serious way....what I've said to them is, 'let's go,'" he said.
He pointed to Democrats' hesitation to tackle entitlements like Social Security and Republicans' unwillingness to change the tax code as the key drivers of the impasse. "There's frankly resistance on my side to do anything on entitlements, there is strong resistance on the Republican side to do anything on revenues," Mr. Obama said. "But if each side takes a maximalist position, if each side takes 100 percent of what it's ideological predispositions are, then we can't get anything done."
The president ruled out any stopgap measures, saying he would not consider signing a one- to four-month extension. "If we think it's hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season, when they're all up. It's not going to get easier, it's going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas," the president said.
let's "eat our peas." That always worked when Mom said it, right? #debtceiling
President Obama acknowledged difficulty that both he and Speaker Boehner face in convincing their respective parties to sign on to any compromise. "I am prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done," he added.
Asked about public opinion on raising the debt ceiling, President Obama said the resistance was largely due to misinformation on what failing to do so would mean. "The public is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury auction goes. They shouldn't; they're worrying about their families, their jobs," he said. But the president was emphatic in saying that exploiting fears of a higher debt ceiling meant reckless politics that could be costly.
"If we don't raise the debt ceiling, and we see a crisis of confidence in the markets, and suddenly interest rates are going up significantly...I promise you they [the public] won't like that," he said. I will say that some of the professional politicians know better and for them to say we shouldn't be raising the debt ceiling is irresponsible. They know better."
"If we're going to actually solve the problem, there are a finite number of ways to do it. If you don't have revenues then it means you're putting more of a burden on the people who can least afford it."
Obama engages his 2012 GOP opponents:"For them to be saying we shouldn't be raising the debt ceiling is irresponsible, they know better."
The president chastised Republicans several times, saying "let's go" and saying midterm election politics must now be aside in the interest of governing."Part of what the Republican caucus generally needs to recognize is that American democracy works when people listen to each other and are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt," and assume patriotism on both sides. "I think there are members of that caucus who haven't fully arrived at that realization yet," he said.