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Obama refuses to budge on debt

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By Reuters
Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 8:24 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — President Obama warned Republicans in Congress on Monday that he will not negotiate over an extension of the debt ceiling as part of a budget battle that will soon dominate Washington, with a deadline fast approaching.

Pivoting to domestic policy after devoting weeks to the crisis in Syria, Obama scolded his political opponents for threatening a federal government shutdown and attempting to attach conditions to funding the budget for the 2014 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

“Let's stop the threats. Let's stop the political posturing. Let's keep our government open. Let's pay our bills on time. Let's pass a budget,” Obama said.

In a speech marking five years since the start of the financial crisis that sent Wall Street teetering, the banking system to the brink of collapse and the economy into recession, Obama said much progress had been made in rebuilding the economy, but much more remains to be done.

He awaits yet another budget showdown as Republicans in Congress attempt to force more spending cuts and remove funding for Obama's signature achievement, the 2010 healthcare law that is facing a rocky rollout.

The fight threatens to become a replay of a 2011 budget showdown that barely headed off what would have been a historic default on the debt over Republicans' refusal to raise the debt limit.

Obama spoke on the day that a gunman killed 12 people at Washington's Navy Yard before being killed himself.

“It's a shame that the president could not manage to rise above partisanship today,” said the top Republican in Washington, John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives. “Instead, he should be working in a bipartisan way to address America's spending problem, the way presidents of both parties have done before.”

The Treasury is expected to exhaust measures to avoid exceeding the $16.7 trillion debt limit as soon as mid-October. If the cap is not raised, the United States will not be able to pay all of its bills and would go into default.

Obama said “the last time the same crew threatened this course of action,” the mere talk of a debt default sent the stock market into a months-long tailspin and slowed economic growth.

“I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States,” he said.

“This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis,” he said.

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