WASHINGTON, January 14 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Monday said Congress must increase the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt limit quickly, warning that if it does not, the consequences would be “disastrous.”
“The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills…We are not a deadbeat nation,” Obama said during a White House press conference, the last of his first term in office.
“They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” Obama said about the Republican controlled US House of Representatives. “The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”
Republicans have said they will not back a debt limit increase without matching budget cuts.
Obama said he would not negotiate on the US debt ceiling and if Republicans in Congress wanted to discuss deficit reduction he is open to doing that, but cautioning not to link the debt with the deficit.
“While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up. If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks, and veterans benefits will be delayed.”
Obama said the idea of the United States not paying its bills is “irresponsible” and “absurd.”
“It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit.”
The US Treasury has said the nation must increase its debt limit between mid-February and March so the government can continue to borrow money to pay its bills, including bills to foreign creditors, The New York Times reported.
“If the Republicans in Congress have made a decision that they want to shut down the government in order to get their way, then they have the votes, at least in the House to do that,” Obama said. “Either Congress pays its bills or it doesn’t.”
Obama also said he will soon ask Congress to pass new gun control legislation after last month’s shooting rampage at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead.
He said he will unveil his gun proposals next week and added that among the ideas under consideration are a ban on assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.
Obama also said his administration is not out to take guns away from law abiding citizens. “The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment. The issue is whether there are sensible steps we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion.”