Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Politics

January 14, 2013

President Obama's end-of-term press conference

(Continued)

Washington, D.C. —

 
 
 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Chuck, the issue here is whether or not America pays its bills.  We are not a deadbeat nation.  And so there’s a very simple solution to this:  Congress authorizes us to pay our bills. 
 
 
 
Now, if the House and the Senate want to give me the authority so that they don’t have to take these tough votes, if they want to put the responsibility on me to raise the debt ceiling, I’m happy to take it.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the Senate, had a proposal like that last year, and I’m happy to accept it.  But if they want to keep this responsibility, then they need to go ahead and get it done. 
 
 
 
And there are no magic tricks here.  There are no loopholes. There are no easy outs.  This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending.  They order me to spend.  They tell me, you need to fund our Defense Department at such and such a level; you need to send out Social Security checks; you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans.  They lay all this out for me because they have the spending power.  And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills. 
 
 
 
Separately, they also have to authorize the raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid.  And so, what Congress can't do is tell me to spend X, and then say, but we're not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills. 
 
 
 
And I just want to repeat -- because I think sometimes the American people, understandably, aren't following all the debates here in Washington -- raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more.  All it does is say that America will pay its bills.  And we are not a dead-beat nation.  And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous. 

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