Obama to Congress: You don’t dine and dash

January 14, 2013

President Obama made an analogy on Monday between the federal debt-ceiling debate and going to a restaurant and refusing to pay the bill.

“You don’t go out to dinner and then eat all you want and then leave without paying the check,” Obama said. “And if you do, you’re breaking the law. And Congress should think about it the same way that the American people do. Now, if Congress wants to have a debate about, ‘Maybe we shouldn't go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant,’ that’s fine.”

Obama also appeared to suggest that there is a way for Congress to avoid responsibility for raising the debt ceiling – perhaps along the lines of the “resolution of disapproval” proposal put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during the 2011 debt-limit fight.

The two options are that “either Congress give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling,” Obama said Monday.

Just as the president was contending on Monday that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would “blow up the economy,” some conservatives were pushing back. The Heritage Foundation emailed out a blog post arguing that in the event that the borrowing limit is not raised, the Treasury Department could “choose” whether or not to default.

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Zachary A. Goldfarb · January 14, 2013