President calls debt crisis 'self-created'
July 20th, 2011
08:08 PM ET
12 years ago

President calls debt crisis 'self-created'

Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama sat down with television stations from three key political states, he said he is still hopeful the White House and congressional leadership will come to an agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling but said politics is interfering.

"This is actually a self-created crisis in some ways. It has to do with folks who are digging into set positions rather than saying how do we solve a problem," the president told KMBC, a CNN affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri.

When asked if people can expect their Social Security checks in August, he told the station it is not guaranteed.

"I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they do. My interest here is not scaring people. I want everyone to understand the consequences. If you don't have money you have to make very difficult choices. The fact of the matter is if you don't raise the debt ceiling then we have more obligations - 70 million checks have to be sent out - and all of those have to be covered."

Saying "there is no reason this should be a problem," Obama urged all the parties again to take "a sensible approach" to the issue, emphasizing a solution should also include major deficit reduction that has both spending cuts and brings in more revenue.

He again complimented the "Gang of Six" proposal, which he said shows both Republicans and Democrats can compromise. The plan, which has bipartisan support among senators, includes both revenue increases and cuts in entitlement programs.

"If we have that kind of philosophy, then over the next couple of weeks hopefully we can put this behind us," Obama said.

While several of the interviewers pushed him on presidential politics, he mostly stayed above the fray.

Asked by KMBC who among the Republican presidential contenders could beat him, he laughed for a second and said, "I have to tell you I am so occupied right now doing the people's business that I am just not spending a lot of time right now worrying about the Republican field."

Obama did say he thought voters will base their election on their perception of his performance and not as much on the efforts of his would-be Republican challenger.

"If next November they feel like I have been on their side and I've been working as hard as I can and I have been getting some things done to move us in the right direction I will win," the president said. "If they don't, then I will lose. That is not to say that the other candidate is irrelevant, but it does say I am probably going to win or lose based on their assessment of my stewardship."

Asked by WBNS, a CNN affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, what his strategy was to win that key state next year, he said, "I'm not thinking about elections. I'm thinking about all the families that I hear back from in Ohio and across the country who are, you know, struggling, maybe a spouse has lost a job, they used to have two paychecks, now they got one, trying to make ends meet."

Obama said if the economy grows and other problems are solved, then "politics will care of itself. And that's going to be true in Ohio, that's going to be true across the country."

He said on both stations that Americans understand the nation's economic problems were not created overnight and that progress, although slower than many had hoped for, is happening.

"What people want to know is that we're moving in the right direction even if they're frustrated with how fast we're moving," Obama said. "We need to speed it up, but I think the trajectory's a good one," he told WBNS.

You can follow Kevin Bohn on Twitter @KevinBohnCNN.

Filed under: Budget • Debt • Deficit • President Obama
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. cindy

    I know you are doing the best you can and I thank you, sir. This is early but chances like this don't come everyday. Happy Birthday and Many More!!!!

    July 20, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  2. Scott

    I love that we have a president that I can watch on live television and not cringe that he will freeze up or invent a word. Politics aside, (voted twice for Bush) I like the guy's presence and competence. And honestly, he's truly working for me as a middle class American. Where I felt in term two, Bush was working for his friends on Wall Street or in the oil business.

    July 20, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. michael

    Its going to rain and its going to get worse before it gets better , I have not heard one of you say I'm sorry , i have heard not one of you ask the people for forgiveness not one! Not one has said forgive me lord, for what we have done ! Not one! it will rain until that happens!
    WE are waiting!

    July 20, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  4. Robert

    He is correct that the debt crisis is self created. If the government would quit spending more money than they receive in taxes, there would be no crisis.

    July 20, 2011 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  5. Richard

    Obama increased the debt more than all 43 presidents that came before him, COMBINED. That is alarming, shocking and to think he promised to "cut unnecessary spending" he promised to go "line by line and cut waste". The American people were had hook line and sinker! The only plan to cut spending that he put forward was voted down 97-0. He is posturing and not leading on the debt issue. Does the president not intend to come forward with a plan or is he leaving it up to others because he does not want to take responsibility for taking money away from entitlement.

    July 20, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    Obama urged all the parties again to take "a sensible approach" to the issue, emphasizing a solution should also include major deficit reduction that has both spending cuts and brings in more revenue.
    There's nothing sensible about taking a problem created by spending that can be solved by correcting spending issues and using it as an excuse for raising taxes just for political reasons. Raising taxes will only make economic recovery take that much longer. What, do the unemployed not have a voice in this issue?!?!?

    July 20, 2011 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  7. Odummy

    But I thought that the demorats have been insisting that there is a $2.6 social security trust fund and that it is completely solvent. Oh that's right, they already spent all that money and the only thing left in the trust fund are IOUs. Guess Obama can't mail those out on August 3rd.

    July 20, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. LegendRx

    Amen Brother!!!!!

    July 20, 2011 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. Todd

    "Politics is interfering?"

    Seriously? What did he think he was getting into by running for President?

    Obama's biggest issue has always been the arrogance of power without experience. He just thought he'd enter office and it would be an 8 year orgy of Obamamania. Now, when he does not get his way, he has no clue at all what to do. That's why he continually lets Congress take the lead in every major policy debate, rather than leading himself.

    July 20, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  10. sbk85

    In my view, the Democrats dropped the ball when they forced the Health Care bill through congress. They lost focus on the economy and lost precious time to get the budget in order before dozens of them were voted out.

    Now, with the Tea-Party m0r0ns gridlocking every single issue on Capitol HIll, literally nothing is being done to solve America's problems. Their convictions are noble, but you simply cannot run a country with all of its intricacies and diversity with an inflexible, hard-line ideology.

    July 20, 2011 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  11. hmmm

    Why does Social Security have to be cut... That is paying people back from their own money. If anyone should be cut it should be congress, the senate, the whitehouse and any staffers.

    They call it entitlement... the people who paid into the national retirement program are entitled... Maybe the welfare checks should be cut instead. Reminds me of a story about a ant and a grasshopper....

    July 21, 2011 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  12. Lyle

    Yeah it is self-created, caused by 45 years of spending more than you receive, not hard to figure out, duh.

    July 21, 2011 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  13. bill

    This guy is in way over his head.

    July 21, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  14. jtom

    Obama created this mess by refusing to get a budget approved. It should have been done last year, and would have been rubber-stamped by a filibuster-proof Democratic congress. He STILL hasn't committed anything in writing as to what he would find acceptable for raising the debt ceiling.

    The Continental Congress passed the first budget in the US. We've never gone this long without one. Does he not understand his job description?

    July 21, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  15. MichaelSD

    Democrats owe republicans NOTHING. 80% of the public is on Obama's side on this, 71% of the public furious with the republican party, and that's that. Dems would be fools to give republicans anything. Call them out. Demand the debt ceiling raised, that taxes be raised 2% on those earning more than 250k/yr, and no compromises about it. If republicans say no, then tell them "enjoy owning the guilt of bringing down the economy then".

    July 21, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. xamn

    If by "self" he means that he has spent more than any other administration in the history of the world, never mind all previous us presidents, then yes, I guess this was "self" inflicted by us voters.

    July 21, 2011 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  17. Becca

    Yeah self created by all of you up there in Washington! Get back out jobs ! Stop all imports and give us jobs not other countried. Give us the money to eat instead of hekping all the other countries who say they have no food. We ned to let all these other countried fend for their selfs. Also who touched the Socical Security as it was there and never to be touched so please give us the answers who touched it? Oh and why are people who have never paid one time into it getting paid benefits from it???? Something just is not right and us common people have not done this to our countyr it is all the big wigs up there in Washington! You all take cuts in your living expences aand see how you like getting knocked down to poor from middle class.

    July 21, 2011 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  18. Collateral Damage Guy

    Really tell us something we don't know..... Hey I have an idea, why not just fix the problem all at once by restoring the tax code to where it should be..... You progressive poser.... Elect a blue dog dem, get a blue dog dem... Should have voted for Hilliary....

    July 21, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  19. Donald

    He just makes me laugh with is stupid remarks!

    July 21, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  20. Kate

    President Obama is about the only one in Washington that seems to be trying to solve this problem. It sure isn't the Republicans.

    July 21, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. Rafael

    The government just needs to do whats necessary to protect our interests as a nation. Obama is only one part of the government; Congress is another. Both chambers of Congress and President Obama will be held accountable if nothing is done to set our financial house in order. Taxes and Spending can be dealt with later, but right now we need to solve this problem before millions of Americans are hurt more because of their incompetence.

    July 21, 2011 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  22. Byron

    The President is correct: There really is no crises. All Congress has to do is vote to raise the debt limit. By law, it doesn't have to be tied to anything. Just vote! Let the Rethuglican's defeat the measure & after the economy collapses the country will vote the Rethuglicans out of office. Then we can fix the economy without all of this nonsense.

    July 21, 2011 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  23. LauraJT

    The minority leader (gag) Mitch has said his number one aim is to make Obama a one term President. Period. This is a crisis created by the Republicans . . . .they certainly didn't do this under Bush when he raised the debt ceiling 11 times, and when he decided that the Clinton surplus should be given away in tax cuts for the rich. How sad they've brought us to this point. How sad the so-called "Independents" do not realize that this is a Republican created problem and a Republican created crisis. Obama does his best to stay "above the fray" . . . yet it has to be extraordinarily difficult with all the children in the room. The debt ceiling WILL be raised (by Obama since it's in the Constitution) yet how sad for Americans that the "lowest common denominator" of all of us is Rush Limbaugh and the t-baggers who don't care about any of us. Wonder why so many IDIOTS voted Republican in the last election. If you're middle-class and not sorry yet, you soon will be.

    July 21, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  24. JSH

    Thank God for Obama, he is the only one acting rationally right now. It is time for the Partisan to step aside and the statesmen to step forward.

    July 21, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  25. trouble

    As an ex-loan officer, I can say that some of the trouble began with sub-prime loans and adjustable rate mortgages. I remember quitting my job because it was clear cut, unethical.

    Why don't our congressmen understand that they need to regulate business interest instead of letting corporations walk all over us?

    July 21, 2011 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
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