WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is urging Congress to increase the debt ceiling, declaring "we're not a deadbeat nation." He insists he will not negotiate with Republicans over raising the government's borrowing authority and says there are no contingency plans to avoid congressional action.
"There are no magic tricks here. There are no loopholes. No easy outs," Obama told a White House news conference on Monday.
Obama said Congress' failure to raise the government's borrowing limit would delay payments of benefits to veterans and Social Security recipients.
He said he is willing to hold talks with Republicans over reducing the government's deficits. But he says those negotiations should take place separately from action on the debt ceiling.
Even the threat of defaulting on government obligations is hurting the economy, Obama said.
The government has hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and is expected to run out of ways to meet all of its obligations around March 1, perhaps earlier. Republicans wants spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
Threatening to not raise the debt ceiling, Obama said, is "absurd."
Without an increase, the government would not have enough money to pay interest to debt holders and pay for all government programs.