“Well, when it comes to all the checks, not just Social Security -- veterans, people with disabilities -- about 70 million checks are sent out each month -- if we default then we’re going to have to make adjustments. And I’m already consulting with (Treasury) Secretary (Tim) Geithner in terms of what the consequences would be,” Obama said.
“We should not even be in that kind of scenario. And if Congress -- and in particular, the House Republicans -- are not willing to make sure that we avoid default, then I think it’s fair to say that they would have to take responsibility for whatever problems arise in those payments.”
In the next breath, Obama said he’s “not interested in finger-pointing and I’m not interested in blame, but I just want the facts to speak for themselves.”
Obama said he’s getting letters from people who tell him they have to skip meals at the end of each month, as well as from senior citizens on Social Security “who are hanging on by a thread. Folks who have severe disabilities who are desperate every single month to try to figure out how they’re going to make ends meet.” He also mentioned federal contractors “who have to wonder are they going to be able to get paid and what does that do in terms of their payrolls."
Obama said a “huge” number of people would be affected by a government default: “(I)magine what that does to the economy, when suddenly 70 million checks are put at risk. I mean, if you’re a business out there, that is not going to be good for economic growth. And that’s the number one concern of the American people.”
Like House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama said raising the debt limit “is not an option,” it has to be done.
Obama insisted that the only “fair” solution is one that includes tax hikes on wealthy Americans, including many small business owners who create jobs. "That’s all the American people are looking for -- some fairness,” he said.
Obama indicated that he and Boehner were not that far apart when it comes to deficit reduction. The difference was, he said, that the White House plan “didn’t put all the burden on people who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them -- working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day.
“And they know they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re mad at everybody about it. They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them.”
Obama said Americans “are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.”
Republicans have complained for months that Obama has advanced no clear deficit reduction plan, not has he been willing to say where he would cut spending. His goal, they say, is to raise taxes.