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Critics argue that many of the president’s policy initiatives — most notably Obamacare — are hindering, not helping, a true financial recovery.

While the economy has to some degree been pushed to the back burner as Washington wrangles with Syria and other crises, a looming fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling is poised once again to bring it back to the fore.

Republican leaders are pushing for deep federal spending cuts as a key part of any deal, with the ultimate goal to dramatically reduce the annual budget deficit.

“You can’t talk about increasing the debt limit unless you’re willing to make changes and reforms that begin to solve the spending problem that Washington has,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said late last week. “And unless we deal with our spending problem honestly and forthrightly, the American dream’s going to be out of reach for our kids and grandkids. I think our members are ready to solve this problem.”

Mr. Obama shot back, admonishing the speaker that he will not “negotiate around the debt ceiling” and promised to continue pushing federal investment.

“My orientation here is real simple. I want to make sure that we’ve got an economy in which Main Street is winning,” he said. “And what that requires is that we’re investing in education, early childhood, that we’re investing in transportation, that we’re investing in the things that we need to grow … If we want to do more deficit reduction, I’ve already put out a budget that says, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Mr. Sperling went even further, arguing that the administration’s efforts to repair the economy could be undone if the nation defaults on its debt.

“What a terrible self-inflicted wound it would be for our country to put at risk, to move our economy backwards instead of forwards, by repeating a high-wire threat of defaulting,” he said.