News / USA

Obama Expects Congress to Raise Debt Ceiling Before Deadline

President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama says he expects Congress to increase the country's borrowing limit before a mid-October deadline, ensuring that the United States does not default on its financial obligations.
 
With the U.S. government in the fifth day of a partial shutdown, it also faces running out of money to pay its bills on October 17, including interest on government bonds held by China, Japan and other overseas investors.
 
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press released Saturday, Obama said he expects Congress will increase the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling so the United States can borrow more money.
 
"America has never not paid its bills, and I've said repeatedly that that's not something anybody should be threatening," he said. "The potential default of the United States, where we are essentially deadbeats, that's never happened."
 
Obama, a Democrat in his fifth year at the White House, is locked in a political stalemate with Republican opponents in Congress over government spending policies and implementation of his signature legislative achievement: wide-ranging health care changes that are now taking effect.

Willing to negotiate

The president said he is willing to negotiate changes to the health law and reduce spending, but not until Congress agrees to end the shutdown and raises the debt ceiling without conditions. Republicans opposed to the health care reforms are trying to end funding for or delay that program, which is commonly known in the U.S. as "Obamacare."
 
Opposition Republicans have insisted that they will only approve a spending bill to reopen the government if Obama and Democratic leaders agree to negotiations on the separate issue of the health care plan.
 
With Congress deadlocked, a lack of funds has halted or sharply curtailed a wide variety of government services.  All national parks, museums and the Library of Congress have been closed since Tuesday, and scientific research at the National Institutes of Health and the space agency, NASA, has been almost entirely suspended. These actions prompted government agencies to order about 800,000 federal workers on furlough status — sending them home without pay and barring them from remaining at their jobs, even voluntarily.

Military spending

U.S. military forces have not been directly affected by furloughs, although the Department of Defense sent home 400,000 civilian employees before recalling them to return to work next week. Some federal agencies and programs, such as the Voice of America, have been ordered to continue their work even with a portion of their workforce on furlough. Air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and many food inspectors also are still working.
 
Despite the focus on the funding shortage resulting from the stalemate in Congress, it now appears that all furloughed workers will eventually be paid for the time they spent at home, thanks to separate action making its way through Congress. Repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to employees whose wages were interrupted, however, is a much smaller issue than the dispute over the debt ceiling.
 
The U.S., with the world's biggest economy, has never defaulted — failed to pay its bills, in effect. Most analysts do not expect that will happen this time, either, but the uncertainty that currently prevails could cause substantial turmoil in world financial markets. A protracted congressional debate in 2011 over increasing the borrowing limit did not shut off government services, but it roiled international financial markets and noticeably slowed economic growth in the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
Some fear that could occur again in the next two weeks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday he does not think that will happen, but he warned that a "prolonged or repeated" political crisis in Washington could weaken the U.S. globally.
 
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on the island of Bali in Indonesia, Kerry described the current government shutdown as "a momentary episode." The risk, he said, lies in how long the stalemate persists.
 
On Capitol Hill, Republicans who control the House of Representatives have offered to approve funding for individual agencies, but the U.S. Senate, controlled by Democrats, has insisted there must be overall funding legislation to reopen the entire government. The Republicans say they will not consider an overall budget unless that includes changes in the health care law, which was previously approved by both houses of Congress and ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
Obama tried to highlight the impact on furloughed workers Friday by visiting a local sandwich shop that was offering discounts to out-of-work government employees. Before ordering lunch for himself and Vice President Joe Biden, Obama challenged House Speaker John Boehner to allow lawmakers to vote freely on a bill to reopen the government without conditions.

"This shutdown could be over today," he said. "We know there are the votes for it in the House of Representatives, and as I said [Thursday], if Speaker Boehner will simply allow that vote to take place, we can end this shutdown."
 
Democratic criticism has irked Boehner, who objected earlier Friday to a published report that framed the ongoing political struggle as a contest that one side or the other could win or lose.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said. "The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness, reopen the government, and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
 
Democrats in the House are considering using a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but they can only succeed if some Republican representatives turn against their party leadership. Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.

Democrats in the House said they will use a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but would need some Republican support to carry out the plan.  Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.

Compromise urged

Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
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Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
One analyst, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, said he thinks both Obama and his Republican opponents will have to compromise on their policy goals if a default is to be avoided.
 
"I think at the last minute there will be some compromise, because neither side can afford to be seen by the public as being intransigent," he said. "So the Republicans will have to give up and say, 'Okay, we'll settle for fewer tax cuts than we asked for.' And the president is going to have to say, 'I'm going to make some bigger reductions [in spending] than I said I would make,' because neither side can afford to have the blame pinned on them. They will move together and learn to live with each other one more time."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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by: Ross Banick
October 08, 2013 3:43 AM


Congress is still playing its game while the Media loves to report on it, and the federal workers, meanwhile, get their paid furlough (they always do). It's all fun and games running around with scissors until someone gets their eye poked out.

The way the game works is that Congress tells the President how much to tax and spend, but, he can't borrow enough to cover the spending. This ridiculous situation is the game that Congress artificially plays. This upended math is what the "debt crisis" is all about.

Remember the California "Energy Crisis"? Well, it was a similar game. Remember how it ended? Yup. By the simple single stroke of a pen. Voila! No more energy crisis. They stopped the game.

Likewise, what Congress SHOULD do is just stop playing their silly game that they created, they play exclusively, and that only they can solve (by law). They instituted this game in 1917, and have played their hands 78 times since 1960 alone. If they didn't LOVE this game, they would have simply funded what they told the President to spend.

That the media eats this up is a given, as the number of potential stories as this unfolds is unending. And, the blame. Oh the blame! It's WONDERFUL how one side blames the other for doing what they did just scant years ago themselves. But, that's how the game is played.

One side withholds something of no intrinsic value (their vote, which, in the end, they'll always give up anyway); while the other side has to give in on something of value (remember the MX Missile?). Neither side would cave in were there not these delicately described massive consequences (which, after all, Congress added to the game just so that the game would work - because - otherwise - nobody would take them seriously).

So, in the end, we have a game played only by Congress which was created by Congress which only Congress can solve. Popcorn please ...


by: Dylan from: Stevens Point, WI
October 07, 2013 1:41 PM
It speaks a lot about this country that the article has to mention that Obama is a Democrat in his fifth year in the White House.


by: anotherview from: California
October 06, 2013 11:10 PM
The VOA has stooped to the level of the political-haters who sneeringly began calling the Affordable Care Act by another name. Perhaps we readers can expect no better from news media workers. Yet at least the NMWs could name the medical care reform law before using the term of contempt for it.


by: Markt
October 06, 2013 6:36 PM
I do not have/use credit cards, I just paid off my car, I make sure I meet all my bills and mortgage by the time they are due (or I make arrangements to pay them in a timely fashion), so I do not fully understand the workings of finance and debt....now, having said that, I will tell what I DO know about it, perhaps from a naïve perspective.
Obama says raising the debt ceiling will not create more debt, but if you raise the limit on your credit card (allowing you to spend more), the natural reaction is...to spend more, thus increasing your debt. You are still spending more than you earn, and that is debt.
I think it is irresponsibility and immaturity from ALL political leaders to not sit down and discuss this crisis, and if they were employed in the private sector, every single one of them would be fired over this. Why do they not understand that it is hurting this country, they way they are acting and behaving...?
I cannot say that I am a Democrat, or a Republican, I do not feel that I can participate in either political party, and if I could venture the idea that I am a Constitutionalist. The Constitution is the cornerstone, the foundation and the framework all at once of what the government SHOULD be doing, not what they are doing now. The very single most important document even penned, and they do not abide by it at all, not the way Congress is acting right now. They shame us, and they shame this country.

In Response

by: marcuscassius
October 07, 2013 12:22 AM
Boehner- "Mr. President, can we burn down the White House?"
Obama- "NO!"
Boehner ="Can we just burn down the south rooms?"
Obama- "NO!"
Boehenr -" Can we burn down down just the front door and the gardens then?"
Obama- "NO!"
Boehner - "SEE Obama just won't negotiate. It's all his fault!"

In Response

by: anotherview from: California
October 06, 2013 11:21 PM
Spending more than you make results in a deficit.

You then have an obligation that requires borrowing to pay for the deficit, leading to debt.

The overspending takes place first. The deficit comes second. And the debt comes third.

You have to borrow to pay the debt incurred already.

The US finds itself in that situation now, by act of Congress approving the overspending causing the deficit that now requires borrowing for the resulting debt.


by: chas holman from: USA
October 06, 2013 12:05 PM
Votes against the Affordable Care Act 42 times on any given day knowing he doesn't have the votes, yet can't quite seem to bring a vote to the floor to keep the nation running and not taking the economy further because he says we need to trust him that no one would vote for it. .

Makes you wonder who's pockets he is so deep into, that he is willing to pander to the lowest common denominator in this self inflicted, GOP economic wound to what was a recovering economy.

Mr Speaker, have you no sense of decency left? Why are you so determined to sell your mortal soul, your parties soul and the Nations soul along with it? What is so important to you personally, that you would destroy any chance at economic recovery?


by: Steve from: Detroit
October 06, 2013 10:49 AM
Banksters and lobbies want to scare people claiming it would be a catastrophe and the sky will fall.It's a lie,they did the same in 2008.By scaring us they always get what they want,bail outs,federal funds,military projects,debt raise,dollar printing and so on.The US is ruled by Wall Street and military lobbies.Why do we need $670 billion in military expenses every year?It's 7 times what other nations spend.The GDP recovery of the last 2 years went to 2% of the US population.We should not raise the debt anymore.NO DEBT RAISE


by: s_s_k from: Fort Washington, MD
October 05, 2013 6:35 PM
I measure the President by the standards set by George Washington, one who delegated a good portion of responsibilities and more importantly hovered above petty politics concerning provincial (internal or external) matters and keeping news media at a distance on sensitive world affairs.

When I moved to the United States in 1994, being used to observing the strongest accumulates the most power, for the first time I recognized the meaning of an _unassuming giant_. Exuding the _unassuming giant_ quality that the United States above average embodies needs to be personified to earnestly encourage cohesiveness around the world. Else, we are just another Rodeo participant.


by: Anonymous
October 05, 2013 5:52 PM
End welfare not health care


by: Hawkeye Davis
October 05, 2013 3:01 PM
The debt ceiling crisis is all hype. Obama is a very smart man. Do you really believe he would risk the whole world economy just to keep from delaying ObamaCare?

In Response

by: Shirley from: Washington
October 07, 2013 12:08 AM
I believe Obama likes getting his way like so many dictators and will go to the extreme to get it.....I think we are seeing the real Obama and it is scary! No Obama care as it stands, the American people are being deceived about what it contains and what the long term effect will be!

In Response

by: Hannah Lee from: China
October 06, 2013 10:16 PM
Obama is a smart man,but I don't understand why Obama government always TAKE SIDES WITH JAPANESE GOVERNMENT!


by: Dr. Finley from: None of your business!
October 05, 2013 11:59 AM
In a speech at the Business Roundtable headquarters in Washington, D.C., Obama dismissed concerns about raising the debt ceiling by noting that it’d been done so many times in the past:

“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up – raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”

Obama went on to suggest that “the average person” mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt:

“It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”

But, the FACT that the U.S. has hit its debt ceiling “over a hundred times” – and, thus, has had to keep raising it – proof that raising the limit does, in FACT, lead to increased debt!
In the mean time this WARMONGER needs to STFU!

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