President Obama warned congressional leaders Wednesday that he would not tolerate a replay of the bitter debt ceiling fight of last summer that nearly put the United States in default and led to the nation's first ever credit-rating downgrade.
At lunch at the White House with top leaders of the House and the Senate, Obama called the political deadlock last year "not acceptable" and emphasized that he expects a "serious bipartisan approach" to tackling the budget and growing federal deficit this year, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Obama stressed the need to "avoid fighting old political fights," Carney told reporters after the meeting. "It's simply not acceptable to hold the American and global economy hostage to one party's political ideology. It's the responsibility of Congress to ensure that the United States of America pays its bills, maintains its creditworthiness."
The president's warning came a day after House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, threatened again to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling by early next year -- when the debt is expected to hit its $16.4 trillion limit -- without significant new cuts in spending.
Boehner's office said Wednesday that the speaker told Obama that he would not allow "a debt ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also attended the meeting.
Republicans last summer agreed to raise the debt ceiling only after Obama dropped demands to include some new revenue in a deficit-reduction package. That debt limit agreement came with about $1 trillion in immediate spending cuts, and another round of $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts that Congress has put off until January.