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. grace

    Oh it's self created all right. It's all the taxpayers fault. We created it and obviously now we're stuck paying for it. Sit down Mr president you shameful excuse for a man.

    July 21, 2011 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  2. Vicki Lynn

    Cutting out benefits to people who have worked hard for them should not be an option. This includes Social Security, Medicare, Veteran's Benefits, Military Benefits & the like. Here are a few things that the White House & Congress can consider doing, that just might help: 1.) Everyone should get taxed equally. The average worker gets taxed a certain amount for every dollar they make, & the same should happen to wealthy people too. No exceptions 2.) Quit giving money to foreign countries. 3.) Stop importing goods from foreign countries. 4.) If you're going to cut the staff of Federal agencies & the like, then it should also include Congressional workers too. What's good for one is good for all. 5.) If cutting benefits is going to be inevitable, such as to federal workers, retirees, military & the like, then the Congressional workers should endure the same thing. Again, what's good for one is good for all.

    July 21, 2011 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  3. jakinak

    This is what you get when you put a community organizer in the White House. Sound bites and sarcasm do not a leader make.

    July 21, 2011 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  4. kat

    Of course it is, You idiot! Stop spending! What about your failed stimulus? Grow up! We can't afford Obamacare, it's a waste of our hard earned money. Back off small business and let progress be made. Get lazies off the backs of hard working Americans and let this country grow. We don't need a country of people who want to live off of handouts, we need to get people back to work and let our country thrive.

    July 21, 2011 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  5. b r

    Please abolish the "lobbying" since its the cause of all the evils. The representatives should vote based on their beliefs, conscience and the core interests of the constituency they represent. Please close the loop holes in the tax code and
    charge the rich and the companies not paying the taxes.

    July 21, 2011 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  6. Republicans - The Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    Reject the McConnell bill instead of shifting the responsibility for the debt ceiling expansion from Congress to the President.

    July 21, 2011 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  7. J.V.hodgson

    For me the Obama solution is clear:=
    1) uplift the debt limit to number that gets us to 2012.
    2) $ 4tr is the spending cuts and tax changes that get us on the road to recovery and allow the economy to have a chance to grow even if slowly. Dems have given a ratio of 3 to one spend cuts vs revenue... who is making the biggest compromise?
    3) Dems will have to accept some changes to Medicare medicaid and Social security, things that go against the grain but then so must Republicans on taxes... there is no real proof of the Job creators of tax increases stifling growth and Investment or job creation just the opposite many times.
    4) So stop behaving like a bunch of kids and make an agreement that is of the people for the people and by the people
    All of them not just corporate interests or social value interests.
    The deal on the table is via several opinion polls what VOTERS OF BOTH PARTIES WANT INCLUDING TAX ELEMENTS.
    Playing chicken games with the national interest is not good politics and does not win votes, and the only side not making any concessions I'll leave voters to Judge. For me it is clearly Republicans being overly ideological and in fact in ways that damage Unemployment further, so much for jobs jobs and welcome double dip recession.

    July 21, 2011 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  8. Matt

    I believe President Obama should lead by example and come off his "set position".

    July 21, 2011 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  9. Occupation

    So true

    July 21, 2011 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  10. Stephen Graff

    Republicans are overreaching again, like they did in 1994 and in 2008. They're already losing special elections (see recent news from Minnesota), and will lose even bigger in 2012. Americans vote from the middle, look at things from a meat and potatoes perspective, don't believe that the rich are being made to contribute and, in fact, blame the present economy on the selfishness and corruption of the richest Americans. If republicans keep resisting on the debt ceiling the perception will be that they will take the blame. Don't believe it? Wait and see.

    July 21, 2011 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  11. richwood7

    Obama, don't let the Republicans hold America hostage. They are worse than and a greater threat to America than al Qaeda.

    July 21, 2011 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  12. FedUp

    Wow! He got that right. I'm surprised he is actually taking the blame for it!

    July 21, 2011 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  13. Sean Greene

    At least he admits what he did.

    July 21, 2011 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  14. John

    For the president to claim that Social Security Checks may not be paid is for him to tell the world he is a liar! Was he lying when he told us the SS trust fund (Never to be used for anything else by law) was solvent through the out years or is he lying now with his scare tactics, or are they both a lie?

    July 21, 2011 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  15. Gregg

    Ever so much still the narcissist.

    July 21, 2011 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  16. We Will Fight On

    more lies from the annointed one, it was not self created, it was created by the demoncrates and the obama that wants to be a black king. My retirement is gone, my savings is gone and my kids cant find work, so it will be a cold day in hell if I vote for any of those who have destroyed the American dream. Be advised, your ends are near and you will be taken down and you will feel the pain that all the people have felt.

    July 21, 2011 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  17. Mit

    Self created?
    Must all Obama-era problems be either Bush-created or self-created?

    July 21, 2011 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  18. Almost rich enough not to care...

    This entire "crisis" has been manufactured by the wealthiest Republicans. First, they lobby for generations for free trade across most borders. Then they invest their money in lower paying manufacturing jobs in other countries. Then when American unemployment stalls at 9.5%, even when there is economic recovery at home, they blame deficit spending. The same exact deficit spending they were happy to engage in like drunken sailors when Reagan and the Bushes were President. But hey, lets bring the dollar down as the international currency standard under a black Democrat, and see how the Greatest Depression in history sits with voters. If this "dog days of Summer" nonsense results in any kind of downgrade to the nation's credit rating before the next election, the only people voting Republican next November will be unreconstructed secessionists descended from Confederate Army veterans, and the rich, those with portfolios heavily diversified in multinational stocks, foreign currencies, and worldwide hedge funds. Think 1964 on steroids, GOP.

    July 21, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  19. Johnny DC

    Oh my.... When I read "This is actually a self-created crisis in some ways", I stood in awe, bracing for the very first time in this man's entire political life that he was ready to take ownership of something that was his fault. Then he finished the sentence.

    To pretend that we're in this place for any reason other than this place is exactly where Obama wanted us is a foolish neglect of the events leading us here. Obama and Liberal leaders borrowed and spent and borrowed and spent there way right here. Say what you will about Bush doing the same, and I'll agree. But Bush did what was necessary to fund war. Obama borrowed at an even accelerated pace to fund unwanted, anti-American social change. And even worse, Obama's programs are harder than a war to stop for the future.

    So now what?

    July 21, 2011 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  20. mary

    I hope come November 2012 that people remember President Obama has done an exceptional job of running this country considering the overwhelming opposition he has recieved from the republicans. Republican senator McConnell said at the beginning of the Obama presidency that The GOP's only aim was to make sure Obama is not re-elected.They have stuck to this goal steadfastly -not caring if the country goes down with him. Anything he is for -they are against-even if it is contrary to prior positions.As far as the tea party goes-I hope it goes down as fast as it rose up.They talk about getting their country back...What a joke! They are angry ignorant. raciest individules who hide behing their religion and guns. Yes this is a self-created crisis..Wake up people and smell the SKUNKS in Congress! I'm proud of my President and all he has TRIED to accomplish.. sign me an Independent voter-a Christian and a Senior citizen

    July 21, 2011 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  21. RightOn

    He got the "Self Created" part right,I hope he was looking in a mirror when he said that. When he said "My interest hear iis not scaring people" his nose began to grow. The scary part here is that people actually believe this guy.

    July 21, 2011 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  22. John

    I hear this from Obama all the time: "We have to hurry. ", "You must do what I say.".. Shovel ready what? The policies the liberals have been forcing down America's throat have not and do not work. We have raised spending in this administration; that is the main problem. Every time this failure of a president opens his mouth, he lies. I am grateful that his approval rating is dropping (44% last week), it gives me faith that the American people are not stupid. (Except for California; which should succeed from the union.)

    July 21, 2011 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  23. Criticalthinker

    What I find most frustrating about this whole thing, is that the Republicans IMPLICITLY agreeed to raise the debt ceiling the day they voted for the last buget and the President signed it, yet now they are EXPLICITLY refusing to agree to raise that exact same the debt ceiling, and the media refuses to explain this to the people who don't have the intellect to deduce this!

    July 21, 2011 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  24. Ben

    The definition of irony

    July 21, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  25. Louisiana Man

    Why should the GOP be concerned about citizens be deprived of their earned SS checks and full Medicare benefits when the Koch Bros, GE, Wall ST, CEO's and their favorite son, dragon breath limboy, may be deprived of their generous tax cut that was so clandestinely bestowed on them. After all, if you cant continue to have your free lunch at the eternal overflowing trough and NEVER receive a bill-whats the use of carrying the dead weight of congress in your pocket?

    July 21, 2011 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
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