President Obama
Obama took his toughest stand to date on deficit reduction. Image: Kathryn Cramer/Flickr/CC BY-SA

President Obama addressed the debt ceiling in a White House press conference Wednesday. He was overtly critical of the Congressional Republicans who are reluctant to raise the debt ceiling and who balk at increased tax revenue. The President said it is time for everyone to “take on their sacred cows” and “get it done.” Reactions seem to be split along party lines.

Obama expects ‘leaders to lead’

Before the national press corps, Obama chided GOP lawmakers for not being willing to make tough decisions:

“Hopefully, leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and do the right thing for the American people,” he said. “Call me naive, but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.”

Dire results if debt ceiling not raised

The President suggested that every lawmaker should cancel July vacations to address the debt ceiling issue before August 2. At that point, the U.S. will have hit its debt spending limit, and will be forced to default on loans from other nations.

“Nobody wants to put the credit worthiness of the United States in jeopardy,” he said. “(If) the U.S. cannot pay its bills – if it defaults – the consequences for the economy will be significant and unpredictable.”

GOP intractable on taxes

Obama maintained that he will not support cutting the deficit unless the deal includes higher taxes and spending cuts. He accused the GOP of being intractable on taxes. His words were especially direct on the GOP’s insistence upon retaining tax cuts for the very rich:

“I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important,” said President Obama. “Or that we’re so concerned about protecting oil and gas subsidies or oil companies that are making money hand over fist that that’s the reason we’re not going to come to a deal. I don’t think that’s a sustainable position.”

Big business taken to task

Regarding putting the needs of big business over those of the middle class, Obama exclaimed, “The business community is always complaining about regulations. Frankly, they want to be able to do whatever they think is going to maximize their profits.”

Democratic Senate leaders after the conference told the president that they would consider canceling next week’s schedule fourth of July recess.

Reactions along party lines

Reactions to the press conference have been predictably split along party lines. Republican House Speaker John Boehner said:

“(Obama’s) administration has been burying our kids and grandkids in new debt and offered no plan to rein in spending. The president is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House. The votes simply aren’t there.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Bravo! This is the fight House Democrats have been making for the last six months under the Republican Majority as they move to end Medicare and continue tax breaks for Big Oil.”



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