The fundamental disagreements between the opposing sides of the debt ceiling debate were on full display Monday night, as President Barack Obama gave a 15-minute address to the Nation, and then House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave a five-minute rebuttal.
The President addressed the current Washington “stalemate” over the proper way to reduce the national deficit: “Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done.”
Obama did not mention raising the debt ceiling until nearly halfway through the speech, when he once again suggested that Americans do not understand the concept: “Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling — a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.”
The President said “ordinary Americans” have been “offended” by Washington for putting the full faith and credit of the United States in jeopardy over “partisan” debate.
“They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table,” Obama said. “And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They’re offended by that. And they should be.”
In his rebuttal, Boehner maintained that it is not the intention of Congress, specifically House Republicans, to stand in the way of raising the debt limit, but to stand in the way of further unrestrained spending.
“President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual — yet another routine increase in the national debt limit — we in the House said ‘not so fast,’” Boehner said. “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen. You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support.”
Boehner said: “This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans… it isn’t about Congress and the White House… it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families.”
Obama said: “The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth — not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation.”