OLD Media Moves

Obama takes a stand on debt limit

January 15, 2013

Posted by Liz Hester

Doesn’t look like President Obama’s second term is going to start out smoothly. In fact, it’s likely to be difficult.

Here’s the story from the New York Times:

With each side claiming popular support, President Obama and Congress’s Republican leaders on Monday dug in on their conflicting positions about raising the nation’s debt limit, indicating that the president’s second term will open with a potentially perilous budget showdown.

Mr. Obama called the final news conference of his first term to reinforce before national television cameras his demand that Congress unconditionally increase the legal limit on the government’s authority to borrow money to pay its bills. But Republicans continued to insist that he agree to equal spending cuts.

“They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” Mr. Obama vowed in the East Room, a week before his second inauguration. “The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, immediately after Mr. Obama’s news conference, said in a statement: “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.”

The Times chose to frame the story in terms of all sides being right with no sign of a compromise in sight.

The Wall Street Journal decided to focus on Obama’s options and the economic angle of the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling.

 President Barack Obama, facing a battle over raising the U.S. borrowing limit, made clear Monday that he sees no alternative to Congress voting for an increase and said that not doing so would be “irresponsible” and “absurd.”

Mr. Obama’s confrontational message—that a debate over the debt limit was already harming the economy and could push the U.S. into a recession—was primarily aimed at Republicans, who plan to use the debt-limit vote as leverage to extract cuts in federal spending. But it also served as a warning to Democrats who have pressed him to increase the borrowing limit unilaterally by invoking executive powers.

“America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up,” he said at a White House news conference.

The Republican response was swift. “The president and his allies need to get serious about spending, and the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). “We are hoping for a new seriousness on the part of the president with regard to the single biggest issue confronting the country, and we look forward to working with him to do something about this huge, huge problem.”

Mr. Obama warned that if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits could be delayed and government workers and vendors wouldn’t get paid.

True to its main focus, the Washington Post chose to lead with the political implications of Obama’s words.

President Obama vowed Monday that he would not negotiate with Republicans over the federal debt ceiling, warning that Social Security checks would be delayed and the nation could enter a new recession if Republicans do not agree to raise the limit on government borrowing.

In the final news conference of his first term, Obama said Republicans were threatening to hold “a gun at the head of the American people” and that he would not trade spending cuts, as Republicans demand, for an agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling.

“If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops,” Obama said, ratcheting up the rhetoric over the looming deadline to raise the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.

“Investors around the world will ask if the United States is, in fact, a safe bet. Markets could go haywire,” he said. “It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit.”

No matter which paper you turned to for the news, the story was roughly the same. But either way, the outcome of the debate will affect everyone in the country, something that was made clear by all the major papers.

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