President Obama discussed the status of debt-ceiling talks Friday morning at the White House and called on congressional lawmakers to reach an agreement and pass a bill that he can sign on Tuesday to avoid default. It was the president's first public statement on the ongoing stalemate since his address Monday night when he urged Congress to act, but behind the scenes he and his aides have pushed for a compromise between the plans proposed by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"There are plenty of ways out of this mess, but we're almost out of time," he said.
Obama said that he would accept a two-part plan, the first of which would raise the debt ceiling beyond the 2012 election and a second that would include tax reform and changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The president argued against a short-term extension so that the nation would not have to “relive this crisis in just a few short months, holding our economy captive to Washington politics once again.”
The president has asked for a $2.4 trillion increase over the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling to help cover government obligations into 2013. If that doesn't happen, the government could run out of its borrowing ability come Tuesday, August 2.
House Republicans want to use the debt ceiling as leverage to make major reductions in the long-term deficit, according to the Associated Press. In a move that shows the GOP is divided on which way to go on the issue, House Republicans postponed a vote Thursday night on Speaker John Boehner's proposal because they didn't have enough votes for passage.
In addition, news broke Friday morning that at a mere 1.3 percent, the nation’s economic growth has been slower than predicted, according to a new Commerce Department report.
“There are a lot of crises in the world that we can't always predict or avoid: hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks. This isn't one of those crises. The power to solve this is in our hands,” Obama said. “And on a day when we've been reminded how fragile the economy already is, this is one burden we can lift ourselves. We can end it with a simple vote -- a vote that Democrats and Republicans have been taking for decades, a vote that the leaders in Congress have taken for decades.”
The president once again asked the American public to continue sharing their views with their representatives in Congress.
“Make a phone call. Send an e-mail. Tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this,” he said, adding that the administration would be working with lawmakers all weekend until they find a solution. “The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.”
In an exclusive interview with BET.com earlier this week, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett explained why the Obama administration is opposed to a six-month extension of the debt limit, something that has been proposed by House Republicans.
"A short-term deal, which would just kick the can down the road for six months, it just adds to the uncertainty. We could still get downgraded" by the credit rating agencies and that could have a dangerous effect on job creation, Jarrett said.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)