President Obama used the final press conference of his first term to again warn congressional Republicans that he will not negotiate with them over the debt ceiling, saying that Washington must increase the limit to pay its bills and such brinksmanship would be “absurd” and “irresponsible.”
Obama argued he has already cut more than $1 trillion in federal spending but is willing to talk about more cuts, including some to Medicare, but would not make that part of the debt ceiling issue. He again suggested a potential mix of increasing taxes by closing loopholes and more spending cuts.
“The issue here is whether Washington will pay its bills,” Obama said. “We are not a deadbeat nation.”
The president’s comments opened the White House event that included a range of questions, including the topic of likely gun-control legislation.
Obama, who vowed following the fatal Dec. 14 shootings at a Connecticut elementary school to try to curb gun violence, repeated his promise.
“If there’s only one step to take to save a child’s life, I’ll take that step,” said the president, who is expected to get strong opposition from gun-rights advocacy groups should he submit legislation to Congress, as expected.
He said the publicity about strong turnouts at gun shows is “an effective way of ginning up fear that the federal government is about to take all of your guns.”