Obama: No More Time ‘to Posture’ on US Debt

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is warning Congress it is running out of time to cut the government deficit and raise the debt ceiling.

Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House Tuesday lawmakers “don't have any more time to posture.” He said failure to reach a deal on raising the country's debt limit would soon cause an adverse reaction in stock markets around the world.

The United States is facing an August 2 deadline to raise its debt ceiling or start defaulting on some of its obligations. Negotiations between the president and Republican leadership in the House of Representatives have stalled over whether to use taxes to raise more money while cutting spending.

Mr. Obama said efforts should now focus on a plan being put forward by a bi-partisan group of U.S. senators known as the “Gang of Six.”

The plan calls for an immediate $500 billion in spending cuts as part of a larger effort to slash spending by $4 trillion over the next decade. It would also make significant changes to major social welfare programs and raise $1 trillion in tax revenues over 10 years.

House lawmakers are scheduled to vote later Tuesday on a bill that would cut more than $100 billion from the federal budget next year in exchange for raising the country's borrowing limit. It would also require amending the U.S. Constitution to ban the government from spending more money than it takes in.

The so-called Cut, Cap and Balance Act is likely to meet with stiff resistance in the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama has also said he will veto the bill if it got through.

Top U.S. officials and some economists have warned a default would have catastrophic consequences, possibly throwing the United States back into recession.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hold talks with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on McConnell's proposal to give the president sole authority to raise the debt limit by $2.5 trillion in three installments over the next year.

Mr. Obama Tuesday characterized that plan as a fail-safe.

Congress must raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit by August 2 so the government can meet its financial obligations. The president held talks with congressional leaders last week in hopes of reaching agreement on a plan that would cut trillions of dollars from the budget, but Republicans have refused to accept Mr. Obama's insistence that such cuts be accompanied by revenue increases.

Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said he would not give up on trying to pass the Cut, Cap and Balance Act but that he was willing to look at other options.