Boehner: Obama's Refusal to Negotiate Over Debt Limit Not Based in Reality

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 16, 2013 | 1:32pm EDT

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that President Barack Obama’s refusal to negotiate over the debt ceiling is not based in “reality.”

National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said last week that Obama is “simply not going to negotiate on the debt limit,” which had been suspended by Congress until May 19.

During a press conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner was asked, “What’s your reaction when the president says he is not negotiating over the debt ceiling?”

“Well, it’s easy to make a statement to that effect, but it’s just not reality,” he said.  “The fact is that his Treasury Department needs to pay the bills. The debt limit has to be dealt with. It has to be dealt with in a responsible way. 

“And he can’t continue to increase the debt limit without doing something about what’s driving the increase in the debt limit,” Boehner said. “And that is out of control spending.” 

The current debt limit of $16.394 trillion has been suspended until May 18. If no action is taken by Congress, the Treasury Department will then institute “extraordinary measures” to stave off the debt ceiling until likely October or November, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Tuesday.

Boehner has previously demanded any increase in the debt ceiling be matched dollar for dollar with spending cuts. He urged his members on Wednesday to be unified in a plan for the debt limit this fall, which may include entitlement cuts and reform to the tax code in exchange for an increase, according to The Hill.

The debt ceiling was last raised in August 2011 to $16.394 trillion, and that was reached on Dec. 31, 2012. Congress, however, agreed to suspend the ceiling until May 18 during the fiscal cliff negotiations at the beginning of the year.

As of the close of business Tuesday, the total public debt held by the federal government stands at $16.761 trillion.

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