Obama urged to ignore congress on debt

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team encouraged President Obama to “take any lawful steps” to avoid a debt default – “without Congressional approval, if necessary.”

Democratic Party lawmakers in the US Congress have urged President Barack Obama to circumvent the legislative body in a bid to avert yet another looming debt default deadline next month.

In a joint letter to Obama, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his leadership team urged the US president on Friday to “take any lawful steps” to prevent the nation from defaulting on its 16.4-trillion-dollar debt ceiling in February “without Congressional approval, if necessary,” the influential Washington Post daily reports Saturday.

The development comes as Republican lawmakers in Congress have made it clear that they will refuse to boost the government’s borrowing ability without deep cuts in its public spending, including entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

The option that some Democratic lawmakers have advocated in dealing with the ongoing stalemate between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans is for the US president to invoke the 14th Amendment to the nation’s Constitution and “declare congressional action unnecessary for raising the [debt] limit,” the daily notes.

The Republicans, however, have dismissed the suggestion of such unilateral action by Obama.

“The Democrat leadership hiding under their desks and hoping the President will find a way around the law on the nation’s maxed-out credit card is not only the height of irresponsibility, but also a guarantee that our national debt crisis will only get worse,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declared in a Friday statement.

A spokesman for Speaker of the House, Ohio Republican John Boehner, meanwhile, added that Americans “will not tolerate” raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts, the report further adds.

In their letter to Obama, Democratic leaders of the Senate indicated that they would back the newly reelected US president if he decides to bypass Congress, insisting that the Republican position to prevent a debt-limit increase unless Democrats agree to cuts in Medicare and Social Security is “outrageous and absurd,” according to the report.

The issue has left rival American political leaders and lawmakers with no definitive strategy as to how to deal with what is likely to emerge as a persisting bitter clash over the country’s financial crisis.