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Obama Offers Reassurance as Debt Ceiling Deadline Looms

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama speaks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House in Washington.

President Barack Obama speaks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House in Washington.

President Barack Obama tried to reassure the world Tuesday that the United States has always paid its bills, as the country faces a deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Obama told journalists that investors are nervous about remarks from Congress indicating a debt default may not damage the world economic recovery.

"Warren Buffett likened default to a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use," the president warned. " It would disrupt markets. It would undermine the world’s confidence in America as the bedrock of the global economy. And it might permanently increase our borrowing costs -- which, of course, ironically would mean that it would be more expensive for us to service what debt we do have, and it would add to our deficits and our debt, not decrease them. There's nothing fiscally responsible about that."

But the president repeated his stance that he will not negotiate with congressional Republicans on fiscal and budget issues until they pass legislation to both raise the debt limit and fund the federal government, which is now in the second week of a shutdown.

Fair game

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks about the ongoing budget battle, Oct. 8, 2013, outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks about the ongoing budget battle, Oct. 8, 2013, outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner later expressed disappointment over President Obama's position.

"This isn’t about me and, frankly, it’s not about Republicans. This is about saving the future for our kids and our grandkids, and the only way this is going to happen is to, in fact, have a conversation. So, it’s time to have that conversation. Not next week, not next month, the conversation ought to start today. And I’m hopeful that whether it’s the president or Democrat leaders here in Congress, we can begin that conversation."

Boehner said the debt limit has always been fair game for bargaining, and that the United States cannot keep spending money it does not have.

The U.S. Treasury expects to exhaust its remaining borrowing capacity under the current $16.7 trillion limit by October 17.

The U.S. government shut down all but essential services last week when Congress could not pass a funding bill. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are still furloughed and many important services remain unavailable.

The shutdown began when congressional Democrats refused to go along with Republican demands to defund the president's health care program.

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