News / Economy

Obama: Congress Must Act Quickly on Spending, Debt Issues

President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Congress to quickly pass a new spending plan and increase the country's borrowing limit, so that the country does not default on its debt.

Obama said Monday it would be the "height of irresponsibility" for Congress not to approve an annual budget for the year that starts October 1, or to fail to increase the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling the country expects to reach a couple of weeks later.

"Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse, threatening not to pay this country's bills," he said.

Obama, a Democrat in the fifth year of his presidency, often has sparred with Republican opponents in Congress over government spending, tax rates and the country's long-term debt. If the White House and Congress do not agree on a 2014 spending plan, a partial government shutdown could occur October 1.  If the borrowing limit is not increased, the government would be unable to pay all its bills.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, says the president should work in a bipartisan way to address the country's spending problems. He said Monday "It's a shame that the president could not manage to rise above partisanship today."

Conservative Republicans are waging a continuing battle against Obama's signature legislative accomplishment, reforms that soon will make health insurance available to most of the 30 million people in the country who do not have it. Some of the lawmakers, supporters of the Tea Party, have threatened to vote against any budget that includes funding for the 2010 health care law, popularly known in the U.S. as "Obamacare."

Obama and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have rejected any attempt to block the law, and the country's Supreme Court has ruled that the measure meets constitutional standards.

The president, speaking on the fifth anniversary of the start of the steep U.S. recession, said congressional budget debates are "as old as the republic." But he sharply criticized the conservative lawmakers for their unwillingness to compromise on a spending plan to boost the U.S. economy.

"I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can't get 100 percent of what it wants," he said.

As the budget and debt ceiling deadlines approach, White House aides and congressional leaders are expected to engage in lengthy negotiations. In the past, the two sides have talked right up to deadlines before reaching agreements.

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