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Obama warns GOP against debt ceiling fight

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned congressional Republicans who are threatening to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip in fiscal cliff negotiations, saying "It is not a game that I will play."

"I want to send a very clear message to people here: We are not going to play that game next year. If Congress in any way suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation, which, by the way, we have never done in our history until we did it last year, I will not play that game," Mr. Obama said at the Business Roundtable. "We've got to break that habit before it starts."

The president was responding to reports that the GOP may be willing to extend middle class tax cuts and agree to higher tax rates on the wealthy now, and then try to use the raising of the nation's debt limit as leverage to extract spending cuts early next year.

"That is a bad strategy for America, it's a bad strategy for your businesses," Mr. Obama said, adding that the U.S. economy cannot afford the kind of uncertainty that resulted from the debt ceiling fight in August 2011.

Mr. Obama's warning comes amid the ongoing fiscal cliff standoff between the White House and House Republicans over how to avert the looming spending cuts and tax increases set to kick in on Jan. 1. Economists in and out of government say the combination carries the risk of a new recession.

Among the Republicans, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma became the latest to break ranks and say he could support Mr. Obama's demand for an increase in tax rates at upper incomes as part of a comprehensive plan to cut federal deficits.

A handful of other Republicans in both houses have said in recent days they could support raising the top tax rates. In the House, conservatives say they suspect House Speaker John Boehner let it be known he wouldn't mind the discussion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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