Obama challenges GOP to compromise on debt

By Andrew Taylor/The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama declared on Monday there would be no deal on raising the government’s debt limit if Republicans won’t compromise, and he said he would not sign a short-term extension — raising the stakes on volatile negotiations with the clock ticking toward a Aug. 2 deadline.

“I don’t see a path to a deal if they don’t budge. Period,” the president said in a challenge to his political opponents, accusing Republicans of having a “my way or the highway” posture.

Asked whether or not he would veto legislation temporarily increasing the debt ceiling, the president said: “I will not sign a 30-day, or 60-day, or 90-day extension.”

The president warned that failure to reach agreement could create another recession and throw millions of Americans out of work, painting a picture of catastrophe if a partisan stalemate is not broken and Congress fails to act. He criticized politicians who say the debt ceiling doesn’t need to be raised.

“It’s irresponsible. They know better,” Obama said.

The president spoke at a White House news conference the morning after convening a rare Sunday meeting with lawmakers in the White House Cabinet Room, where he continued to push for a “grand bargain” in the range of $4 trillion worth of deficit cuts over the coming decade. That ran into Republicans’ refusal to raise taxes.

Obama conceded that House Speaker John Boehner, who pulled his support for a large-scale deal over the weekend, faced a potential revolt by his caucus, and suggested Republicans should take a political risk — as the president said he is.

“I am prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done,” Obama said, contending he has “bent over backward” to work with Republicans.