In a surprise press conference on Monday, an intransigent Barack Obama demonized House Republicans as hostage-takers "with a gun at the head of the American people," while saying that the government would not be able to pay social security checks if the debt ceiling is not lifted.
According to Obama, House Republicans have two choices: Either raise the debt ceiling or relinquish their Constitutional authority to him.
Either way, Obama implied, the limit will be increased.
The President also said he would not negotiate with Congress.
“I will not have that conversation with a gun at the head of the American people,” he told reporters. “We have to break the habit of negotiating through crisis over and over again.”
"[GOP leaders] will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” he said, comparing Republicans to kidnappers. “The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”
In 2006, however, Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling while in the U.S. Senate -- something CBS' Major Garrett asked him about in Monday's press conference.
“As you well know, sir, finding votes for the debt ceiling can sometimes be complicated. You yourselves as a member of the Senate voted against a debt ceiling increase,” he said. “You yourself four times have done that; three times those were related to deficit reduction or budget maneuvers.”
“I think many people are curious about is this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history in the modern era of American presidents in the debt ceiling and your own history on the debt ceiling,” Garrett said.
"Well, no, Major. I think if you look at the history, getting votes for the debt ceiling is always difficult and budgets in this town are always difficult. I went through this just last year. But what’s different is we never saw a situation as we saw last year in which certain groups in Congress took such an absolutist position that we came within a few days of defaulting," Obama said.
"And, you know, the fact of the matter is, is that we have never seen the debt ceiling used in this fashion, where the notion was, you know what, we might default unless we get 100 percent of what we want. That hasn’t happened," he added.
“America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit,” Obama said in 2006.
But it seems that Obama's position on the debt ceiling has "evolved" since then. In 2006, George W. Bush, a Republican, was president, but the rules seem to have changed since then.
Republicans responded sharply to Obama's statements.
"President Obama seems to be the only person in Washington who threatens default on America’s debt obligations," said Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.
"The root of our economic problem is out of control spending," he added. "Until Washington stops spending money it doesn’t have, America will continue down the path towards insolvency paved by Greece. President Obama continues to run trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. We can’t continue borrowing money from China as we rack up more debt and send the bill to our children and grandchildren. The federal government has a spending problem and the only remedy is to control spending."
"The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved," added House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
"The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same," he added.
Unfortunately, Democrats have not shown any inclination to control spending, and according to Speaker Boehner, Obama does not believe there is a spending problem.
"At one point several weeks ago," Boehner told the Wall Street Journal, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.'"
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