Obama Drives Home Urgency on Debt Limit

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At Friday's press conference, the president sent a clear message to lawmakers: We have no choice but to make a deal

Obama debt ceiling press conference - Larry Downing Reuters - banner.jpg

President Obama on Friday expressed optimism that "we'll see this logjam broken" and progress will be made in resolving the nation's debt crisis in the next couple of days. But he stressed how high the stakes are, warning that failure to raise the debt limit on time will amount to "a tax increase on everybody" because of the impact on interest rates.

"Suddenly, whether you're using your credit card, you're trying to get a loan for a car or a student loan, businesses that are trying to make a payroll, all of them could end up being impacted as a consequence of a default," he said at the White House.

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The press conference--his third in a month and second this week--was called to hammer home the urgency he feels as the August 2 deadline approaches and a week of intense negotiations with congressional leaders yielded little evident progress.

When asked about the proposal offered by the opposition in Congress for a balanced budget amendment, Obama was defiant.

"We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs," he said.

He also signaled he is not ready to give up on his push for the biggest possible deal, despite Republican opposition. "I am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal," he said. "Let's still be ambitious."

He praised congressional leaders for stating that default should be avoided. More than that, he said, is the need to address deficits. "We have a chance," he said, "to stabilize" American finances for at least a decade.

To miss this opportunity, he suggested, would be calamitous. And he complained that Congress -- which he said "has run up the credit card" -- waited so long to address how to pay for their spending.

"We should not even be this close to a deadline on this issue. This should have been taken care of earlier," he said.

Image credit: Larry Downing/Reuters

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George E. Condon Jr.

George E. Condon Jr is a staff writer (White House) with National Journal.

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