Boehner warns of debt ceiling battle

May 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- President Obama should expect a debt ceiling fight unless he agrees to matching spending cuts, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.

Boehner, at a news conference, said Obama has failed to take the lead on reining in the nation's debt and spending.

"The largest tax hike in American history is scheduled for the end of this year, so are defense cuts that President Obama's secretary of defense has said will hollow out America's armed services," the Ohio Republican said.

"Listen, America's faced tough challenges before. And every time we've been able to meet them. We can do it again. But it will take a president willing to lead, or at least show up."

Boehner accused Democrats of using "drama or brinkmanship" to push their agenda.

"Our debt and our deficit act as a wet blanket over our economy," he said. "The sooner we deal honestly with our long-term debt and our budget deficit, the sooner the skies begin to clear, more certainty comes, so that American employers can do what they do best, put Americans to work.

Obama told congressional leaders Wednesday he will not allow a replay of last summer's debt-ceiling fight that nearly put the United States in default and resulted in a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

The president said he expected a "serious bipartisan approach" to tackling the budget and growing federal deficit this year, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Obama told congressional leaders he intended to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling without offsetting the increase dollar for dollar.

"When the president told me yesterday that he wanted a clean increase in the debt limit, it almost took my breath away. We had this debate last year," Boehner said. "The White House wants to raise the debt limit without a single dime of spending cuts or reforms," he said.

The debt-ceiling battle had been widely expected to begin after the November elections, when the country will again need to raise the borrowing limit.

The U.S. debt is expected to hit its current limit of $16.4 trillion in January.

After last summer's dramatic standoff -- which ended with Obama signing the Budget Control Act Aug. 2, the date the U.S. Treasury Department estimated the U.S. borrowing authority would be exhausted -- the Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating for the first time in the country's history.

Financial markets around the world then experienced their most volatile week since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging 635 points, or 5.6 percent, in one day.

"You have to ask the speaker of the House whether or not he intends or he believes that it is the right thing to do for the American people, the American economy, to play chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States government." Carney told reporters Wednesday.

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