New York (CNNMoney) – The Obama administration on Monday turned up the heat on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
The Treasury Department, hours after President Obama again said he would not negotiate with Congress over the issue, said it will run out of ways to keep the country under the legal borrowing limit sometime between mid-February and early March.
President Obama formally asked Congress Thursday to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, stating the country’s debts have fallen within $100 billion of the current debt limit and an increase is needed to meet “existing commitments.”
The request came Thursday in a letter from the president to House Speaker John Boehner.
The latest request is the third asking to raise the debt limit since the contentious debt ceiling agreement last August. That agreement called for the ceiling to be increased in three stages, giving Congress the opportunity to express disapproval at each stage.
That deal, signed into law in August, authorized a phased increase of the debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion, with $400 billion of that kicking in immediately and another $500 billion coming in September. This latest request – for an additional $1.2 trillion – is the final stage of the agreement.
Congress has 15 days to pass a joint resolution denying the request for the increase, which President Obama can then veto.
In September, the Republican-controlled House passed a resolution against Obama's request to increase the debt limit, but the Senate did not.
In response to today’s request, Speaker Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck said, “Washington’s mounting debt is hurting our economic recovery, and this request is another reminder that the President has consistently punted on the tough choices needed to rein in the deficit and protect important programs for American seniors from going bankrupt.”
The new debt ceiling is expected to meet current financial commitments through the end of next year, according to the Treasury Department official.
President Obama is laying low at the White House today. No doubt he and his staff are keeping on eye on the world markets for any aftermath of the S&P down grade of America's debt. Monday should also bring a nice game of "Who's to blame" for the down grade.
"This is essentially a tea party downgrade," Obama's top political advisor David Axelrod told the CBS program Face the Nation. "The tea party brought us to the brink of a default."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also appearing onFace the Nation, "The Tea Party didn't destroy Washington," Graham said. "Washington was destroyed before the Tea Party got there."
full schedulae after the jump
This week's picture of the week pulls back the curtain as we go behind the scenes as Vice President Biden became a key power player in helping to close the deal on raising the nation's debt ceiling. The photo was taken by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) as Biden sought to calm Democrat's concerns about the deal in a closed door caucus meeting. Senator Leahy's was the only camera allowed in the closed door meeting.
To celebrate the end of a long and stressful legislative process for the debt talks, President Obama took some members of his staff out for lunch on Wednesday.
The president, along with 5 of his staffers, dined at Good Stuff Eatery, a hamburger joint on Capitol Hill known for its burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Obama wanted to thank the team for their nonstop work for the past few months on the debt negotiations.
The group went into the restaurant, run by Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame, and ordered burgers and fries. No word if he ordered a "Prez Obama Burger" which is a burger topped with "applewood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and delicious horseradish mayo sauce," according to the restaurant's website.
The staff members- OMB Director Jack Lew, Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy Ann DeParle, Chief of Staff to the Vice President Bruce Reed and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling along with the president sat upstairs and greeted other patrons during the unannounced trip away from the White House campus.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the heat of the political debate over the debt ceiling last week, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) may have crossed the line when he said that being associated with President Obama would be similar to touching a “tar baby”.
“Even if some people say, well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will hold the President responsible,” said Lamborn said Friday during an interview on a Denver radio station. “Now I don’t want to even have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get, you get it, you know… you are stuck and you are part of the problem now and you can’t get away.”
Now critics are questioning his use of that term and are calling it highly offensive to the president.
The term “tar baby” is a reference to 19th-century Uncle Remus stories about Br’er Rabbit but has taken on a negative connotation towards African-Americans.
Lamborn spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said the comments were a misunderstanding and he apologizes.
“Congressman Lamborn regrets any misunderstanding. He simply meant to refer to a sticky situation or quagmire,” she said.
The Republican congressman is not the first to run into trouble with the phrase. Mitt Romney referred to the Big Dig construction project in Boston as a "tar baby" in 2006 during a fundraiser on the campaign trail. And Sen. John McCain also used the term during his campaign for president. Both men apologized.
The White House has not given any comment on Rep. Lamborn's remarks.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there's a disagreement between the White House and Republicans on the likelihood that the deficit reduction committee will tackle tax reform.
The politics of these positions should be fairly clear: ahead of these uncertain votes, Republicans want to reassure members that taxes aren't really on the table; Democrats want to reassure members they are.
What's behind the spin....
There's no disagreement on this point: the Committee can take up tax reform if it chooses to. The dispute is whether the deal is structured in a way that motivates the committee to do it. Keep in mind the Committee's product - if it passes Congress - would take effect January 2013, just when the Bush Tax Cuts expire.
Compromise is the word of the day at the White House, especially as some Democrats are publicly expressing disapproval of the deal struck over the weekend
The White House dispatched the president’s top economic adviser to make the TV rounds Monday, in part an effort to calm nerves from several Democrats that Republicans got the better of the deal.
Gene Sperling, the chief White House Economic Adviser, had this to say:
As the president said many times, we have divided government. We had the responsibility to make sure that didn't mean dysfunctional government that ended up hurting our economy. This is a compromise. . . This makes sure that a good amount of that deficit reduction comes from security and defense spending, so there's more shared sacrifice in how we're cutting spending. It helps protect college scholarships for people who are . . . on Pell grants.
Sterling also suggested tax revenues could come from the upcoming special committee’s recommendations this fall, a sentiment the president agreed with in his statement.
When you have an incentive that makes both sides have to come to the table, this president believes very strongly that the American people will side with him that the type of big deficit reduction we should do should not put all of the burden on seniors or students or working families as some of the republican plans would like to do, but does require shared sacrifice and that means tax reform that asks the corporate tax expenditures, those most well off to be part of the solution and this president will insist on that. He did not give up anything in that goal of shared sacrifice in this package.
In the second stage of the deal, a special joint committee of Congress will recommend further deficit reduction steps totaling $1.5 trillion or more by the end of November, with Congress obligated to vote on the panel's proposals by the end of the year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama may no longer be face-to-face negotiating the ongoing debt ceiling talks but the Obama team is using Twitter and the president's handle as its latest tool to influence the Hill.
President Obama, using his signature "-BO" to show he actually tweeted himself, launched a flurry of tweets by saying:
"The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. —BO"
The Obama team followed up with more than seventy tweets (and counting) listing the Twitter handles of Republican members of Congress encouraging followers to "urge them to support a bipartisan compromise to the debt crisis." @BarackObama, with more than 9 million Twitter followers and managed by the President's re-election office, has shown to be a powerful messaging resource.
During his prime time address on Monday night, President Obama asked Americans to make their voices heard by their representatives in Congress encouraging compromise. Americans responded – old school – calling their elected representatives in Washington. By the next day, phone lines and servers on Capitol Hill has reached capacity. After the president's similar plea on Friday, House telephone circuits were again on overload.
The federal government has four days left to raise the nation's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said. A failure to do so will risk an unprecedented national default. Read about where things stand on our "This Just In" blog.