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President Obama said Wednesday that he will not allow the debt ceiling to become "a bargaining chip to set policy," calling the tactic "irresponsible" politics.
"It would fundamentally change how American government functions," Obama told the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs.
As the White House and Congress gear up for new budget battles, Obama said congressional Republicans are trying to use the debt ceiling to "extort" harmful budgets from his administration.
Obama asked the business people to "flip the script," and imagine the political reaction if a Democratic House speaker told a Republican president: We won't raise the debt ceiling unless you raise corporate taxes by 20%.
"That can't be a recipe for government," Obama said.
The debt ceiling gives the government the authority to borrow money to pay bills it has already racked up; failure to increase it could lead to a government shutdown, Obama told his business audience.
The Treasury Department reports that it expects to exceed the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling in mid- to late October.
Congressional Republicans said Obama can solve the budget and debt ceiling impasses by agreeing to less federal spending.
"No one is threatening to default," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our debt crisis. Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt limit increase, and this time should be no different."
Buck also pointed out that, as a U.S. senator, Obama once voted against a debt ceiling hike.
Obama's speech was the latest in a series of economic events conducted by the president. He is using them to promote programs he has put in place since the 2008 financial crisis, and to make his arguments in the renewed budget battles with congressional Republicans.
In 2011, Obama told the Business Roundtable that just the prospect of a debt ceiling breach and default led to a lower stock market and a downgrade in the nation's credit.
Obama made a brief speech to the business leaders just before a question-and-answer session that was closed to the press.
The White House and Congress are also at a budget impasse that could lead to a government shutdown.
The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and the White House and Congress must agree to a new spending plan or face a shutdown.