Obama, Republicans Still Wrangling Over US Debt

Posted July 15th, 2011 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and opposition Republicans called on each other to offer “serious” plans to solve the nation's financial problems on Friday.

In a televised news conference, Mr. Obama said again he is willing to consider cuts in popular social programs including pensions and health care for the elderly, and aid to veterans. In return, the president wants Republicans to vote for higher taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations.

The two sides appear far from agreement, and face an August 2 deadline to raise the $14.3-trillion legal limit on the amount of money Washington can legally borrow. Failing to make a deal would mean defaulting on some obligations. If that happens, major rating agencies say they will cut the U.S. credit rating. Mr. Obama says that would bring higher interest rates across the nation and hurt economic growth.

In an earlier news conference, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, said the House will vote next week on a $2.4-trillion measure to raise the debt ceiling. The Republican-sponsored measure is intended to cut spending, cap expenditures and seek to amend the constitution to require balanced budgets.

President Obama said getting such major cuts without new revenue will require unacceptably deep cuts in programs that are vital to many Americans. He also said elected officials do not need a constitutional amendment to make the tough spending decisions that are a key part of their jobs.