The top Republican in the House of Representatives warned President Barack Obama over the weekend that he’s ready to let the United States default — and that the White House is to blame.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that Republicans in his chamber would not immediately honor the White House’s request to raise the US debt ceiling, setting the stage for what would be the first ever federal default in the history of the country.
Answering whether he thinks a default is imminent, Boehner said, “That's the path we're on."
Boehner warned that Obama was "risking default by not having a conversation with us."
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Fox News that defaulting on the country’s debt would be both “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
The Obama administration has urged Congress to raise the US debt ceiling, essentially increasing the amount of money that the US Treasury can borrow from other nations. Should the ceiling not be raised ahead of an October 17 deadline, however, the US is expected to default and likely damage further its reputation within the international community.
The Republican refusal to increase the debt ceiling in Congress comes amid a government shutdown expected to enter its second week on Tuesday. The reluctance of the GOP to approve a budget that includes President Obama’s hallmark Affordable Care Act turned chaotic last Tuesday when a 12 a.m. deadline came and went without a compromise.
Again, Republicans insist that catastrophe could be averted if the White House agrees to discuss its spending habits with Congress and perhaps reach a compromise ahead of the looming Oct. 17 deadline.
"The nation's credit is at risk because of the administration's refusal to sit down and have a conversation," Boehner told ABC's "This Week.”
According to Boehner, House Republicans are not interested in approving any "clean" debt limit bill. Instead, the speaker says the White House should engage in a conversation that could yield a compromise between both parties.
“I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit,” Boehner said. “And the President is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”
"I don't want the United States to default on its debt," Boehner said. "But I'm not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up. It would be irresponsible of me to do this."
“He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call,” added Boehner.
As House Republicans and the White House remain locked in stalemate, figures on both the right and left largely agree a default would only worsen matters.
“On the seventeenth we run out of our ability to borrow, and Congress is playing with fire," Lew, the treasurer, told CNN this week.
On Monday morning, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling suggested that the White House may come up with a compromise that would call for a shot-term increase of debt ceiling in order to save the country from default.
At an event in Washington on Monday, Sperling told ABC reporter John Karl that a short-term deal wasn’t off the table.
"I think longer is better for economic certainty and jobs, but it is ultimately up to them," Sperling said of Congress.