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Debt Ceiling

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Debt Ceiling, With each side claiming popular support, President Obama and Congress’s Republican leaders on Monday dug in on their conflicting positions about raising the nation’s debt limit, indicating that the president’s second term will open with a potentially perilous budget showdown.

Mr. Obama called the final news conference of his first term to reinforce before national television cameras his demand that Congress unconditionally increase the legal limit on the government’s authority to borrow money to pay its bills. But Republicans continued to insist that he agree to equal spending cuts.

“They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” Mr. Obama vowed in the East Room, a week before his second inauguration. “The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, immediately after Mr. Obama’s news conference, said in a statement: “The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so, too, are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved.”

With the president refusing to negotiate over the essential increase and Republicans saying he must, reporters pressed Mr. Obama about whether he is considering some executive action to sidestep Congress and raise the debt ceiling — as Democratic leaders have urged. But Mr. Obama declined to answer directly, and his administration has ruled out proposals to either invoke authority under the 14th Amendment or mint a platinum coin as a sort of collateral for more debt.

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