Obama: No Debt Ceiling Debate Before Election

WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) --
President Barack Obama told congressional leaders he would not allow a replay of last summer's debt-ceiling fight that nearly put the United States in default.

Over hoagie sandwiches at the White House, Obama called the political deadlock last July "simply not acceptable" and said he expected a "serious bipartisan approach" to tackling the budget and growing federal deficit this year, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The debt-ceiling battle had been widely expected to begin after the November elections, when the country will again need to raise the borrowing limit. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio -- who clashed with Obama over the debt ceiling last summer -- told an audience Tuesday Obama lacked the "courage" needed to reduce the nation's deficit.

Boehner stood by his position at Wednesday's White House meeting, telling Obama, "as long as I'm around here, I'm not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt," an aide said.

Obama had told those at the meeting he intended to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling without offsetting the increase dollar for dollar.

The U.S. debt is expected to hit its current limit of $16.4 trillion in January.

After last summer's dramatic standoff -- which ended with Obama signing the Budget Control Act Aug. 2, the date the U.S. Treasury Department estimated the U.S. borrowing authority would be exhausted -- the Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating for the first time in the country's history.

Financial markets around the world then experienced their most volatile week since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging 635 points, or 5.6 percent, in one day.

"You have to ask the speaker of the House whether or not he intends or he believes that it is the right thing to do for the American people, the American economy, to play chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States government." Carney told reporters Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were also at the meeting, which was supposed to be about Obama's wish for Congress to act on proposals he said would immediately spur the economy.


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