Obama on debt ceiling fight: ‘I will not play that game’

President Obama forcefully rejected any notion Wednesday that he would allow Republicans to use the debt limit as a way to force tax and spending concessions on Democrats.

“We’re not going to play that game next year,” Obama said in remarks to the Business Roundtable, a business lobbying group. "If Congress in any way suggests they’re going to tie up negotiations over debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation, I will not play that game.”

The nation runs out of federal borrowing authority around the end of the year, but the Obama administration can use special measures to extend borrowing through late February or early March. As part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, Obama has proposed effectively ending the need for Congress to periodically raise the debt limit, which Republicans have rejected.

Even as he issued that warning, Obama said he saw some rank-and-file Republicans warming to the idea of allowing tax rates on the wealthy to increase.

“We've seen some movement” on rates on the Republican side, Obama said. “Maybe they can accept some rate increases as long as it’s combined with serious entitlement reform. … If we can get the leadership on the Republican side to take that framework, to acknowledge that reality, then the numbers are not that far apart.”

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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