National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said Monday that the White House would be open to a short-term debt-ceiling increase as a last-ditch way to stave off a potential default.
ABC reporter Jon Karl asked Sperling Monday at a Politico Playbook breakfast in Washington whether the White House would accept a short-term increase (about two weeks). Though Sperling quickly said that the White House and President Barack Obama would prefer a long-term deal rather than kick the can for a few weeks, he said it’s up to Congress to set the amount of the increase.
“I think longer is better for economic certainty and jobs, but it is ultimately up to them,” Sperling said.
For the White House, this line of talking point makes sense — they have said all along that it is Congress’ responsibility to raise the debt ceiling, and that Obama will not negotiate with Republicans using it as a leverage point. It’s also different than the debt-limit negotiations of 2011, when the White House insisted that it be raised beyond 2012.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that the nation’s debt limit needs to be raised by Oct. 17. The Treasury warned last week that failure to hike the debt limit could lead to an economic catastrophe worse than anything outside of the Great Depression.
Sperling has also been sounding the alarm since mid-September. On a conference call with reporters, he said that, according to business leaders who have shared their thoughts with the White House, the 2011 debate over raising the debt ceiling hurt consumer confidence on a level comparable with “Pearl Harbor or 9/11.”
“When the president met often with business leaders afterward, a couple of major companies came in and showed him … what 2011 meant to business,” Sperling said.
House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that the U.S. was “on the path” to default because of Obama’s refusal to negotiate around the debt ceiling.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.