U.S. President Barack Obama holds a town hall to discuss reducing the debt and deficit at North Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, on April 19, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 1 (UPI) -- Republican House leaders met with President Barack Obama at the White House Wednesday and demanded detailed spending cuts before raising the debt ceiling.
After meeting with the entire GOP caucus, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he told Obama, "This is the moment. This is the window of opportunity when we deal with this on our own terms. ... Let's not kick the can down the road one more time ... If we're going to raise the debt limit, the spending cuts should exceed the increase in the debt limit."
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Obama agreed that the debt must be tackled, but there is a "philosophical difference whether we should continue to pump money into this economy," The Washington Post reported.
On Tuesday, the House voted 318-97 against raising the debt ceiling, with almost half the Democrats joining all the Republicans.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the federal government will default Aug. 2 without an increase in the ceiling, now $14.3 trillion.
Before the meeting, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama would stress lawmakers' duty to uphold U.S. "faith and credit."
Republicans had introduced the bill simply to have it defeated.
"This vote, based on legislation I've introduced, will and must fail," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
"This is a political stunt," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the committee's senior Democrat.
A federal default would be "calamitous," Carney said, responding to Republican critics who said they either didn't believe the government would default or didn't think a default would be a big deal.
Carney cited a Nov. 16, 1983, letter President Ronald Reagan sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, R-Tenn., demanding a debt-limit increase.
"Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets," Reagan's letter said. "The risks, the costs, the disruptions and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: The Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns."
"We agree with Ronald Reagan and many others that we cannot default on the full faith and credit of the United States," Carney said.
The White House has said a debt-limit increase is needed not only for new spending but also to cover Social Security checks, military pay and other obligations, including payments to creditors holding U.S. Treasury bonds.