Obama equivocates on Boehner debt-ceiling pact

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the GOP’s latest proposal to end the budget impasse, but he didn’t completely reject the olive branch.

The proposal suggested by House Speaker John Boehner would raise the government’s credit-card limit to allow continued deficit spending for an additional six weeks.

But the proposal would not include a 2014 budget, which is stalled because Obama and his Senate allies want extra taxes and spending, and also oppose any GOP budget that includes popular reforms of the Obamacare takeover of the nation’s health-care sector.

The Boehner proposal would allow more time for budget negotiations before the federal government hits its credit limit.

The federal deficit is so large that the government will hit the debt limit around next week. The limit is now almost $17 trillion, or $55,000 per American.

Reporters asked Carney if Obama would accept the credit-limit extension, even without a 2014 budget deal demanded by Obama.

“Yes, but he’s not paying a ransom for Congress to do its jobs,” Carney replied at the daily press conference Thursday.

Even when the government hits the credit limit, the government can continue to borrow, providing it also pays off other debts with its inflow of tax receipts.

The six-week extension suggested by Boehner would extend the budget impasse six weeks closer to Christmas.

It is not clear if the continued fight will hurt Obama’s poll ratings more than the GOP’s poll ratings.

A longer standoff would allow the White House to continue its criticism of the GOP, but also would leave the public more skeptical about Obama’s ability to lead the nation through an increasingly difficult economic future. (Related: Obama offers to fairly negotiate with nuclear-armed GOP terrorists [VIDEO])

Carney shrugged off suggestions from reporters that Obama’s approval of a short-term debt-ceiling extension would amount to negotiation, and he repeatedly insisted that the GOP should submit an 2014 budget without reforms to Obamacare.

Top Republican legislators, including Boehner, are slated to visit the White House late Thursday, but Carney refused to describe the meeting as a negotiation, reiterating Obama’s harsh rhetoric about the GOP.

“They’re going to have a conversation … he’s not going to give anything in return for Congress doing its job … [and] he’s not going to pay ransom to the tea party,” Carney said.

The GOP’s budget-cutting policy serves to “punish the American people… [inflict] continued harm to the American economy,” he claimed.

“We got into this mess because tea party Republicans … [tried to] prevent millions of Americans from getting access to affordable insurance,” via Obamacare, he insisted.

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