The U.S. central bank chief is pressing Congress to control the government's chronic deficit-ridden spending.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says U.S. lawmakers must soon "find ways to put the federal budget on a sustainable path, but not so abruptly as to endanger" the country's sluggish economic recovery. He said Congress and the White House will have to resolve the country's impending "fiscal cliff," a series of sharp spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January unless the lawmakers reach a compromise on a new economic path.
He said analysts agree that if Congress does not resolve the issue, "it would likely throw the economy back into a recession." Republican and Democratic lawmakers have long been at odds over the government's annual deficits, adding to a growing long-term debt that totals $16 trillion.
Bernanke spoke to the Economic Club of Indiana in Indianapolis. He said Congress could also help the economy by reforming the country's tax laws, improving its educational system, supporting technological innovation and boosting international trade.
In recent weeks Congress has delayed action on the economic dispute, at least until after the country's November 6 presidential and congressional elections. The state of the nation's economy is at the center of the presidential contest between the incumbent Democrat, President Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.