| WASHINGTON, Sept 15
WASHINGTON, Sept 15 President Barack Obama, in
an interview broadcast on Sunday, blamed conservative
Republicans for a stalemate on the budget and insisted that
while he is willing to haggle over taxes and spending, he will
not make a deal would that would impose conditions on increasing
the nation's debt limit.
With a possible government shutdown looming in two weeks,
and the threat of a U.S. debt default as early as mid-October,
Obama said On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that
it is up to lawmakers to work out a budget.
But he insisted the budget should contain enough spending to
help support economic growth, and added that he will not allow
Republicans to attach conditions to raising the $16.7 trillion
U.S. borrowing cap.
"We've presented our budget," Obama said. "Now it's the job
of Congress to come up with a budget that keeps our long-term
trends of ... reducing the deficit moving forward, but also
allows us to invest in the things we need to grow."
Trading cuts to his signature healthcare program in exchange
for an increase in the nation's borrowing limit is not an
option, Obama said.
"What I haven't been willing to negotiate, and will not
negotiate, is on the debt ceiling," he said.
With the crisis over Syria off the boil, Washington faces
yet another fiscal showdown. Most government operations will
cease Oct. 1 unless Congress passes a budget the president will
accept and the United States risks a debt default as early as
mid-October if lawmakers delay raising the borrowing cap.
Obama and the Republican-led House of Representatives remain
at loggerheads over both the budget and the debt limit.
Republican lawmakers have sought to make defunding the
president's signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act,
also known as Obamacare, a condition for raising the cap.
"WAYS OF DOING THIS"
Lawmakers last week considered extending government funding
at current $988 billion levels until mid-December, but Tea Party
Republicans insisted that cuts to Obamacare remain part of the
Obama will mark the five-year anniversary of the U.S.
financial crisis on Monday in an effort to move back to his
domestic agenda after weeks of dealing with Syria and how to
respond to its use of chemical weapons. The financial crisis was
accelerated on Sept. 15, 2008, when the Lehman Brothers firm
filed for bankruptcy protection.
Obama is expected to focus on the positive, discussing
progress made and highlighting his prescriptions for boosting
job creation amid budget battles expected with Republicans in
Congress in the weeks ahead.
Obama said he would be willing to talk to House Speaker John
Boehner about reversing deep across-the-board spending cuts that
went into effect this year through the process known as
sequestration, but said the House of Representatives' top
Republican has been an unwilling partner.
"There are ways of doing this. It's just that they haven't
been willing to negotiate in a serious way on that," he said.
Obama and Boehner have clashed on repeated occasions over
the budget. A standoff over raising the debt limit in 2011
resulted in the first-ever U.S. credit rating downgrade and
dealt a setback to the nascent economic recovery.
Obama also said he is willing to talk to Republicans about
how to accelerate further reductions in the budget deficit. But
he pointed out that the deficit has shrunk more quickly than
expected, and said that efforts by "a portion of Congress" to
push for sharper budget reductions would only worsen the wide
gap between rich and poor in the United States.
"There's no serious economist out there that would suggest
that if you took the Republican agenda of slashing education
further, slashing Medicare further, slashing research and
development further, slashing investments in infrastructure
further, that would reverse some of these trends of inequality,"
The Congressional Budget Office has said it expects the
government's annual deficit to shrink to $642 billion in the
fiscal year that ends this month, the first annual deficit below
$1 trillion in five years.