IMF Warns as US Politicians Wrangle Over Debt

Posted July 25th, 2011 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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As U.S. congressional leaders and President Barack Obama haggle over plans to cut spending and perhaps raise taxes, a key expert at the International Monetary Fund says Washington needs to do both to solve its debt problems.

Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti told journalists Monday that the U.S. economic recovery is still weak, so spending cuts should be spaced out over the next few years to avoid hurting short-term economic growth. He spoke as the IMF published a new study of the U.S. economy.

Leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are working on competing plans to raise the federal debt limit and trim budget deficits. Congress and the White House failed to reach a bipartisan agreement Sunday, prompting declines on stock markets around the world Monday. Gold prices also soared to a record high.

The leader of the majority party in the House, John Boehner, called on his fellow Republicans to support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling accompanied by a package of spending cuts. Boehner earlier said he was not sure a bipartisan deal could be reached.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, wants a longer-term deal on the debt ceiling, while also cutting trillions of dollars in spending. President Barack Obama has said he wants an ambitious debt-reduction package.

August 2 is the deadline for raising the debt ceiling and allowing the federal government to continue to borrow money. The Obama administration and congressional leaders had hoped to announce a framework for an agreement before Asian financial markets opened Monday.