LIBERTY, United States (AFP) – President Barack Obama warned Friday that America would become a “deadbeat” nation if conservative Republicans refuse to raise the government’s debt ceiling by next month and throw the economy into crisis.
Obama traveled to a car plant in Missouri to slam Republicans who are threatening to make an increase in the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit contingent on ending funding for his cherished health care reform law.
“If we don’t raise the debt ceiling — we are deadbeats,” Obama warned in a fiery speech, saying Republican tactics on the House of Representatives were “the height of irresponsibility.”
“This is the United States of America. We are not a banana republic, this is not a deadbeat nation. We don’t run out on our tab.”
The president took pains to explain that raising the debt ceiling — providing the government the money to pay its obligations — was not the same as adding to the annual budget deficit and did not include new spending.
He accused Republicans in Congress of risking a “tailspin” for the still recovering U.S. economy, and for putting partisan zeal ahead of the good of the whole nation.
“If Congress doesn’t pass this debt ceiling in the next few weeks, the United States will default on its obligations. That’s never happened in American history. Basically, America becomes a deadbeat,” Obama said.
His remarks escalated a political row between the White House, Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, who see the conservative debt ceiling strategy as flirting with fiscal disaster.
The U.S. government is expected to run out of money by around the middle of next month — a scenario that could send stockmarkets tumbling and send shockwaves through the global economy.
Obama also slammed Republicans over their strategy on another issue — the government budget for the coming fiscal year.
Earlier on Friday, the Republican-run House of Representatives approved a stop gap budget — which would also defund the health care law.
The measure has no chance of surviving a Democratic-led Senate and Obama’s presidential veto, but will at best delay the process of reaching a budget deal.
If no solution to this row is found by October 1, huge parts of the U.S. government will be forced to close down, and Obama warned even soldiers serving abroad could see their paychecks stopped.
Photo Credit: AFP/Brendan Smialowski