Obama About to Speak on Debt Limit Crisis

The President is about to speak before the nation “on the status of the debt limit negotiations.” You can watch it live here.

Earlier today, in a speech on the floor of the Senate, Harry Reid said he would introduce his version of a debt limit bill today, unable to wait for John Boehner any longer to get his act together.

That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation. The legislation in point would cut $2.5 trillion from the deficit over the next decade and avert a default on our national debt. It would protect Social Security and Medicare without raising a penny of revenue. The question us – will today’s Republicans break away from the shrill voice of the Tea Party and return to the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan. This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default. I have invited Sen. McConnell to sit down with me, and to negotiate in good faith knowing the clock is running down. I hope will accept my offer. I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican’ eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats. But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option. The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.

Democrats, including even Steny Hoyer, urged the President to backstop the negotiations by using the 14th amendment as a last resort, effectively saying that he would not allow a default on US payment obligations. If the debt limit is reached, the legal options for the White House and the Treasury Department are strictly limited, and throughout this process they have seemed unwilling to use those elegant legal avenues. So if all the available options are legally suspect – if it’s either violating statutes by withholding payments or violating the law by prioritizing them – then something like the 14th Amendment option doesn’t look so risky. A President has a Constitutional responsibility to ensure the public debt shall not be questioned. It’s being questioned right now. He doesn’t have many options if he wants to stop violating his oath of office.

I will update as it happens…

…There does seem to be a lot of coalescing around the 14th Amendment option among Congressional Democrats over the past couple days.

…Here we go. Obama says “The House is still trying to pass a bill that the Senate won’t vote for. It does not solve the problem and it has no chance of becoming law. Any bill to avoid default must be bipartisan. It will have to have support of the House and the Senate.”

Touts Reid and McConnell solutions, says there are “plenty of modifications we can make” to get them into law. He’s urging the Senate to find common ground on a plan “that I can sign by Tuesday.” We’re “in rough agreement on how much spending can be cut responsibly.” There will be a process for tax and entitlement reform. If we need an enforcement mechanism for that we can do it. We need a solution to pay bills on time as we always have. If we don’t come to an agreement we could lose our AAA credit rating. Not because we can’t pay our bills, but because we don’t have a AAA political system. There are a lot of crises we cannot predict or avoid. This isn’t one of these crises. The power to solve this is in our hands. This is a burden we can lift ourselves. We can end it with a simple vote. One that Congress has taken for decades. Won’t spend more money. The debt ceiling merely allows us to pay the bills we have already racked up. It gives the US the ability to keep its word. Asks again for people to to call Congress and “keep it up.” Make a phone call, send an email, tweet, “keep the pressure on Washington.”

This is a nothing speech, actually.

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