Obama: Debt limit increase can't be tied to spending cuts

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is demanding that Congress quickly raise the nation's $16.4 trillion debt limit, telling reporters, "we are not a deadbeat nation."

At a White House news conference less than a week before he takes the oath of office for a second term, Obama warned that if the nation's borrowing authority isn't extended, "Social Security benefits and veterans' checks will be delayed."

And he's warning Republicans not to insist on cuts to government spending in exchange for raising the debt limit. He says, "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy." He said he's willing to consider deficit reductions, but that the steps will have to be taken independently from a vote to raise the debt limit.

He said letting the government shut down rather than renewing funding beyond the end of March "will hurt the economy."

In response, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama and his allies in Congress need to get serious about spending, and that the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it.

Debt ceiling fight threatens SS checks, says Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says Congress' failure to raise the government's borrowing authority would delay payments of benefits to veterans and Social Security recipients. He again warned that he will not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, aiming to pin the burden of an unprecedented default on congressional Republicans.

The government has hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and is expected to run out of ways to meet all of its obligations around March 1, perhaps earlier. Republicans wants spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Threatening to not raise the debt ceiling, Obama said, is "absurd."

Without an increase, the government would not have enough money to pay interest to debt holders and pay for all government programs.