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As the United States is hurling closer to the point of no return on the debt ceiling, President Obama addressed the nation on Monday evening calling the partisan politics a “dangerous game.” Obama criticized the temporary Republicans plan and urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling before the quickly-approaching August 2nd deadline.
“The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” the president said in a hastily arranged prime-time speech. He appealed to the public to contact lawmakers and demand “a balanced approach” to reducing federal deficits. “It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before,” Obama said, “and we can’t afford to play it now.”
Obama discussed the importance of raising the debt ceiling and the consequences if the ceiling is not raised in time. “Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach,” Obama said. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”
The president suggested that Republicans consider raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He pointed out that it is not fair to ask for average American families to deal with deep spending cuts while the wealthiest Americans get off scot-free. “Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get,” the President stated.
“How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?”
Arguing that Republican leaders were acting outside of the interests of their constituents, President Obama called on voters to “make your voice heard.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) unveiled a plan earlier on Monday that would raise the debt ceiling temporarily for six months. Obama addressed the plan stating, “In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem,” he said. Speaker Boehner issued his own rebuttal speech immediately following Obama’s address.