President Obama on Monday repeated his call for a long-term deficit reduction deal, and demanded that Congress raise the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, arguing that a failure to do so will "blow up the economy." Speaking from the East Room during the last news conference of his first term, the President said the government's bills must be paid, and chastised Republicans for insisting on spending cuts during the ongoing debate, making an analogy to going out to dinner and then refusing to pay the tab.
"You don’t go out to dinner and then eat all you want and then leave without paying the check," President Obama said. "And if you do, you’re breaking the law. And Congress should think about it the same way that the American people do."
"Now, if Congress wants to have a debate about, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant,’ that’s fine. But you don't say 'in order for me to control my appetites,' I'm gonna not pay the people who already provided me services. That's not showing any discipline...that's not a credible way to run the government."
America is not "a deadbeat nation," the President declared, and said "the issue here is whether America pays its bills."
The approximately 50-minute news conference was an addition to the President's schedule, and his 17th solo news conference since taking office. Congress must pay the bills the government has incurred, the President said, because the economy is showing signs of improving.
"While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they’ve already racked up," he said.
"Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending, it simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to."
"Either Congress gives me the authority to raise the debt ceiling or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling,” President Obama repeated, noting as he has in the past that he will not waiver in his intention to raise the limit.
Mr. Obama technically dined and dashed last June, when he hosted a Father's Day luncheon for four guests at Kenny's BBQ Smokehouse in Northeast DC, then departed without paying the $55.58 bill. The White House later corrected the oversight, and settled the tab by the end of the business day.
The President fielded questions from reporters after his remarks, including on gun control, a lack of women and minorities in his second term Cabinet, and his perceived "aloofness" and lack of socializing in Washington.
From Politico, the Dine and Dash clip: