President Obama warned Republicans not use the debt ceiling to gain leverage for more entitlement cuts in budget negotiations, saying it would remind voters of last year’s failed deficit-reduction talks and devastate the economy.
During remarks to corporate CEOs at the Business Roundtable Wednesday, Mr. Obama called on corporate leaders to urge Republicans to avoid a replay of the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011, which prompted Standard and Poor's to devalue the U.S. credit rating and caused stocks to drop.
Such a redux would be a “catastrophe” for the nation that would lead to a “self-inflicted series of wounds that will potentially push us back in a recession and set back this country after all the work that we’ve done over the last four years digging ourselves out of a hole,” Mr. Obama said.
In making the comments, Mr. Obama was addressing an audience made up largely of adversaries, not allies, especially those business leaders opposed to the president’s overhaul of financial sector regulations and the the 2010 health care law.
But Mr. Obama warned that another fight over the debt-ceiling would rattle stock markets and create unnecessary uncertainties in the business world.
“We can’t go there again,” Mr. Obama said.
The Roundtable’s president is John Engler, the former GOP governor of Michigan, and Mr. Obama quoted him, saying the debt ceiling is “not a good weapon for anything except destroying our own credit rating.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill quickly denounced the comments, saying raising the debt-ceiling is Congress’ job and should remain so, despite Mr. Obama’s proposal to make it more difficult for lawmakers to oppose an increase in the limit.
“The president wants to have the ability to raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants, for as much as he wants, with no responsibility or spending cuts attached,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. “This is an idea opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike; it’s a power grab that has no support here.”
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
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