President Barack Obama blasted the Republicans during his weekly radio address on Saturday for wasting time, playing political games and risking the first default in the nation’s history.
“Republicans in the House of Representatives just spent precious days trying to pass a plan that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had already said they wouldn’t vote for,” Obama said.
Over the past weeks the president and Democrats have called for compromise in raising the nation’s debt ceiling. Failure to do so would mean the United States might not be able to pay its bills on spending that Congress already appropriated in the past years. It could mean the United States would not be able to pay Social Security, Medicare or veterans benefits; provide loans for people wanting to buy homes; and interests rates would increase on car loans, student loans, and home loans.
“That would be inexcusable, and entirely self-inflicted by Washington,” Obama said. “The power to solve this is in our hands. All that’s needed is a simple vote that Democrats and Republicans have taken for decades.”
Republicans have insisted on spending cuts only and now a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Democrats have insisted any deal should not only include spending cuts but also increased revenues. The failure of the parties to agree and the deadline for raising the limit on Tuesday has prompted the White House to ramp up its calls for progress and compromise to avoid the unthinkable.
“I have to say, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been listening and have shown themselves willing to make compromises to solve this crisis,” he said. “Now all of us – including Republicans in the House of Representatives – need to demonstrate the same kind of responsibility that the American people show every day. The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.”
He said the parties were not far apart in the overall debate and that there were ways to avoid defaulting on the country’s obligations. He also said it was imperative to reach an agreement so those who relied on the government to pay its bills would not be affected.
“Look, the parties are not that far apart here,” Obama said. “There are plenty ways out of this mess. But there is very little time. We need to reach a compromise by Tuesday so that our country will have the ability to pay its bills on time, bills like Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and contracts we’ve signed with thousands of American businesses.”
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