In his last news conference of his first term, President Obama urged Congress to act on a new fiscal plan that would reduce the deficit by cutting spending and raising new revenue and raise the debt ceiling that will allow the government to pay its bill.
Obama said November's election results showed that voters believe in his approach to spur the economy. "It turns out the American people agreed with me," he said. "They want us to get our books together."
The White House and Congress struck a deal on New Year's Day to avert the so-called fiscal cliff by taxing the nation's top earners. "We have made progress," he said. "We are moving toward our goals."
But Obama said Congress would be "irresponsible" if it does not act quickly to raise the debt celing, putting the country back into another crisis. "Time is running short," he said.
"While I'm willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they've already racked up," Obama said. "To even entertain the idea of this happening, of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It's absurd."
"They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," he said. "The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."
Obama fielded questions on other issues, including his imminent response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn. He said he would meet with Vice President Joe Biden later Monday to talk about his recommendations to vurb gun violence and would announce his "sensible common sense" plan later in the week.
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