Liveblog: Obama addresses the nation on debt
July 25th, 2011
08:54 PM ET
3 years ago

Liveblog: Obama addresses the nation on debt

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama addressed the nation on the debt ceiling seven days before the nation is forecast to reach the debt limit of $14.29 trillion dollars. Lawmakers must reach an agreement before August 2 to increase the amount of money the nation can borrow and avoid the possibility of default. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner delivered a response to the address following the president's remarks.

11:18 p.m. ET
  @EWErickson Boehner's plan is best called "Punt, Kick, & Pass." Punts to another commission, kicks the can & passes more debt onto future generations.

11:00 p.m. ET
@ChuckSchumer Time for @SpeakerBoehner to lead his caucus; right now, extreme bloc in House is leading him instead

10:13 p.m. ET @PressSec Jay Carney (EOP) As #POTUS said, Americans are "fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word." Rs & Ds need to come together, and act.

10:00 p.m. ET @KyungLahCNN What do you think? #Japan's yen now below 78, big concerns in Tokyo of impact to Japan from lack of #debt ceiling deal. Who do you blame?

9:53 p.m. ET
@CoryBooker Obama agrees with Reagan (and every other president over the past 30 yrs). it is outrageous not to raise debt limit and pay our obligations.

9:46 p.m. ET @JeffFlake President wants a balanced approach? How 'bout agreeing to sign cut, cap & balance.

9:45 p.m. ET
@DanaPerino I think potus could help himself if next appearance included Bo the dog – dogs can help sell anything!

Read the full liveblog after the jump.


9:35 p.m. ET @JonHuntsman @BarackObama's call for tax increases and his own politically convenient timetable are misguided and reckless

9:35 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN OBAMA v BOEHNER political bottom line: Tonight was time travel from #debt debate to opening shots in 2012 election cycle.

9:32 p.m. ET @rolandsmartin It's time for YOU to ride Congress to get a deal. In the morning, CALL 202-225-3121 & BLOW UP the lines of ALL members of Congress! RT!

9:29 p.m. ET @LarrySabato Dems think Obama did well. Rs think Boehner did well. And in a nutshell there's the problem.

9:28 p.m. ET @PJCrowley The world is indeed watching. We must live within our means, but #America also has national and global interests that default would harm.

9:26 p.m. ET
@EWErickson Boehner's speech was right on. The problem is Boehner's plan doesn't cut enough to avoid a credit downgrade.

9:23 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN Boehner yet to answer president's charge that his bill would just "kick the can" to next year and rattle the markets.

9:22 p.m. ET Speaker Boehner: This debate isn't about President Obama and House Republicans … it isn't about Congress and the White House … it's about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families.

You know, I’ve always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people. And right now, we have a government so big and so expensive it’s sapping the drive of our people and keeping our economy from running at full capacity.

The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it,

There is no symptom of big government more menacing than our debt. Break its grip, and we begin to liberate our economy and our future.

We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in this work.

God bless you and your families, and God bless America.

9:21 p.m. ET Speaker Boehner: You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.

Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate, and be sent to the President for his signature. If the President signs it, the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than one trillion dollars, and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.

The individuals doing this work will not be outsiders, but elected representatives of the people, doing the job they were elected to do as outlined in the Constitution. Those decisions should be made based on how they will affect people who are struggling to get a job, not how they affect some politician’s chances of getting reelected.

9:19 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN BOEHNER: President Obama wants business as usual, a routine increase in the debt. GOP will say "not so fast".

9:18 p.m. ET
@LisaDCNN BOEHNER: Introduces himself. He is the speaker of the "whole house".

9:17 p.m. ET House Speaker John Boehner response
: Good evening. I’m John Boehner. I serve as Speaker of the whole House - of the members of both parties that you elect. These are difficult times in the life of our nation. Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why.

Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual.

I’ve got news for Washington – those days are over.

President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual - yet another routine increase in the national debt limit - we in the House said 'not so fast.’ Here was the president, asking for the largest debt increase in American history, on the heels of the largest spending binge in American history.

Here's what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for. A 'stimulus' bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours.

The United States cannot default on its debt obligations. The jobs and savings of too many Americans are at stake.

What we told the president in January was this: the American people will not accept an increase in the debt limit without significant spending cuts and reforms.

And over the last six months, we’ve done our best to convince the president to partner with us to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our government, and help small businesses get back on track.

Last week, the House passed such a plan, and with bipartisan support. It’s called the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ Act. It CUTS and CAPS government spending and paves the way for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which we believe is the best way to stop Washington from spending money it doesn’t have. Before we even passed the bill in the House, the President said he would veto it.

I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all.

Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.

The president has often said we need a 'balanced' approach - which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for them and their kids unless significant action is taken now.

The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.

9:15 p.m. ET
President Obama: History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good. We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.

That’s who we remember. That’s who we need to be right now. The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

9:13 p.m. ET
President Obama: Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward. The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.

I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform. Either way, I have told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress – a compromise I can sign. And I am confident we can reach this compromise. Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before. And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.

I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They are offended by that. And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise. As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding: that out of many, we are one. We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

9:10 p.m. ET
@AriFleischer I guess O forgot he voted against raising the debt limit when he was a senator. Not so routine then I guess...

9:10 p.m. ET
President Obama: And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default. But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result. We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach. Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now. The House will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach. Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions. Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare. And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.

That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake. We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

9:08 p.m. ET
@LisaDCNN Getting lots of tweets from you guys that this sounds like a campaign speech.

9:08 p.m. ET President Obama: Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine. Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it 7 times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – one caused almost entirely by Washington.

Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.

9:07 p.m. ET @cnnbrk #Obama on what default could mean: "Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money" #debt http://t.co/3ilpiFX

9:06 p.m. ET President Obama: Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it. And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

This approach is also bipartisan. While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared. While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.” And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done. Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?
That’s not right. It’s not fair. We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country – things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.

Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit. The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan. But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach – an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, President Clinton, myself, and many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate. So we are left with a stalemate.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office.

9:05 p.m. ET @AriFleischer As a senator, O supported an even more expensive, bigger Medicare drug program, which wasn't paid for.

9:03 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN OBAMA: so far, saying I inherited the deficit and then the economy tanked.

9:02 p.m. ET @EWErickson The President starts out blaming the GOP. Hey GOP, guess what he'll do if Boehner's plan passes and we lose our credit rating?

9:02 p.m. ET
President Obama: To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit. Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable. But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy. More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
9:01 p.m. ET Note: Standing off to stage right in the East Room: Chief of Staff Daley, fellow Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett, Press Secretary Jay Carney.

9:01 p.m. ET President Obama
Good evening. Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.
For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

8:41 p.m. ET
@David_Gergen In past, Presidents usually give emergency speeches about someone outside hurting USA. This is a self-inflicted wound!

8:36 p.m. ET @ErinBurnettCNN Source who met w/S&P says SIZE of Boehner plan is the problem.MIGHT not be enough to avert downgrade,needs to be closer to $3TR all at once.

8:35 p.m. ET
@David_Gergen On CNN, will be watching #Obama, #Boehner to see if they can get past posturing, lead us to safety.

8:22 p.m. ET Robert Reich during interview on CNN
Social Security "is not the problem." Says social security is actually in surplus right now, and is making the deficit actually look smaller than it is.

8:18 p.m. ET Sen. Jeff Sessions during interview on CNN "The problem we've got is not the debt ceiling. The problem we have is the surging deficit."

6:52 p.m. ET @AWMooneycnn More on Obama's speech: He will outline no new plan


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • President Obama
soundoff (306 Responses)
  1. Brian

    This speech is 30 seconds in and already a disgrace... all he has done the entire time is blame Bush. How pathetic

    July 25, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. realist88

    I notice he didn't mention the 3 trillion spent on stimulus (BY HIM) which helped create this problem!

    July 25, 2011 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Bryan

    What about favorite company like GE? How much have they paid lately.

    July 25, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  4. Dudley Doright

    To the Speaker of the House
    In regards to the current incompetence being demonstrated in Washington, we could blame each other until we have self destructed. I do not consider that a solution. The debt ceiling should never have become a debatable issue. When the budget was passed, the ceiling had to go up.
    Budget discussions are when these issues should be debated, not at a time when failure to act could result in domestic and global economic disaster.
    You are responsible to the country not to lead or follow it into self destruction. Solve this issue not soon, not today, but NOW. In this time before the two of you appear on TV tonight. Better for both of you to appear together with a ceiling increase, which must happen anyway.

    July 25, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Big Daddy Rock N Roll

    Here we go again, the blame game!!

    July 25, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. arale norimaki

    Does anybody here think our U.S. congress can live on minimum wage?

    Why Not Have congress Paid By Minimum-Wage?

    July 25, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. mcgil38

    Obama seems more weam and pathetic everytime I listen to him speak... 2012 can't come soon enough!

    July 25, 2011 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Nolan

    I felt like he was trying to sell me something I don't want. It was also obvious that it was not his words, since he has rarely or never used such vocabulary in any other address

    July 25, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Tyler

    The GOP need to start doing thier job and listen to the American People

    July 25, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. Jewels

    Obama is making good points.

    July 25, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Frisky Alexander

    How cool would it be if Boehner's response was :He's right, lets do this thing!

    July 25, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. Robyn Speers

    Is he kidding me!!! Any person who knows finances KNOWS you HAVE to cut your spending NOT just raise your credit card limit. What kind of idiot did we elect. OMG!!!! We have got to quit spending and we can't make the middle class pay even more. We pay 90% of all taxes now. Also, someone who makes $250,000 and a business owner is NOT rich. He needs to live in the real world. IMPEACH OBAMA!!!

    July 25, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  13. Ben

    Is this a campaign speech or an informative speech on our country's debt problem?

    July 25, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. JSH

    The radical Republican Party is THE biggest threat to the United States of America! Obama may not be perfect but he is 100% better than anything coming out of the radical right.

    July 25, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. realist88

    Compromise is a two-way street!

    July 25, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Why can't government official's take pay cuts. All of them.

    July 25, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Really

    Yes we know what to do, because most of America is already doing it in their own homes. If our paycheck is cut, we find ways to reduce spending!! Sorry America, your paycheck has been temporarily cut. It will be increased as soon as individual paychecks are increased. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please spend responsibly.

    July 25, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Bev

    Perhaps the Republicans don't want the tax on the rich because they, themselves, are all rich. So they are protecting their butts (looking after #1) and it doesn't sound like they care about the average American citizen.

    July 25, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. JB

    This speech is absolutely awesome. This guy finally sounds like he gets it, and I wish everyone else in Washington would start doing the same thing!

    July 25, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. Anthony

    Stop the insanity and live within your means. Keep the debt where its at. If we cant live with a credit card equal to our annual salary, then something is seriously wrong... Obama opposed it 4 years ago and now he changes his mind?

    July 25, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. josee larocque

    well, i think it's too late to talk in platitudes.... stop with the greatest nation on earth business...give the facts and outline your plan....
    us is starting to look kind of ridiculous....

    July 25, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. Joel

    WOW!! He still does not get it.

    July 25, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. amazonfeet

    All I know is if I don't get my SSDI check next Wednesday, I will not be able to pay the rent, and it could leave me homeless. In addition, I will not be able to get medicine necessary to life. And the House Republicans want me to sacrifice while they don't pay in a thing? They claim to be "pro-life, pro-family values"......REALLY?????

    July 25, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  24. Wade

    lets start with Obama and his entire cabinet, as well as all congress and senators, Cutting their wages in half, do that first, then we will talk

    July 25, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. Donna Short

    President Obama deserves our support. Republicans need to quit hindering his leadership just because they have a short-term memory of this starting with the second Bush presidency.

    July 25, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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