Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama held the seventeenth solo news conference of his presidency Monday at the White House - his second since being re-elected to a second term in November. His opening statement - and the bulk of the news conference - focused on the debt limit, which is poised to become the next battle between the White House and Congress.
Other topics: the ongoing debate over gun control and the recent uproar over a lack of women in his second term cabinet.
Refresh this page for the latest updates as the president's news conference gets underway, and watch the news conference live on CNN-TV and streaming on CNN.com.
12:40 p.m. ET - Here's the reaction from House Speaker John Boehner to today's press conference:
“The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved. Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future. The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same.”
12:31 p.m. ET - Obama concludes his press conference after approximately 50 minutes of speaking and taking questions.
12:30 p.m. ET - The president pushed back on criticism he does not socialize enough with members of Congress, saying the opposition to his ideas in Congress is unrelated his relationship with elected officials.
He said those in Washington often do not accept invitations to meet with him because of the "optics." But now that his daughters are getting older and "don't want to spend that much time with me anyway," he said he may meet with players in Washington more often.
12:28 p.m. ET - Listen to Obama explain his aversion to socializing in Washington in this interview with CNN chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin, taped in August.
12:27 p.m. ET - The president said his first term cabinet was the most diverse in history and that he expects "that record will be built upon." He pointed to high profile women in his administration that led the state department, his health care overhaul push and his department of Homeland Security. Additionally, he said 50% of his White House staff are women.
12:27 p.m. ET - For the latest on who's in and who's out of Obama's cabinet, check out this CNN interactive.
12:24 p.m. ET - Final question is on a pair of criticisms of Obama: one is that his team is too insular, and doesn't socialize with political rivals. The second is on diversity within his cabinet, which recently came under scrutiny after Obama nominated three white men to top cabinet posts.
12:23 p.m. ET - CNN's Dana Bash reports on this reaction from Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell to Obama's press conference:
“The President and his allies need to get serious about spending, and the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it."
“I do know that the most important issue confronting the future of our country is our deficit and debt. So we are hoping for a new seriousness on the part of the President with regard to the single biggest issue confronting the country and we look forward to working with him to do something about this huge, huge problem.”
12:20 p.m. ET - Obama predicted there are enough votes in the House of Representatives to allow a government shutdown, something he called a "mistake" that would "profoundly damage our economy."
"They're elected representatives," the president said of House members. "Folks put them into those positions."
But he said the American people would likely "blame all of Washington" if that were to happen.
12:18 p.m. ET - Another question on the debt limit - Are you prepared to bring the government to a halt if that is a consequence of not negotiating with Republicans on the debt limit?
12:15 p.m. ET - Obama called on Washington to "break the habit of negotiating through crisis over and over again." The start of his second term is a good time to stop that cycle, he said.
Another view of Obama's news conference, from AFP/Getty Images.
12:11 p.m. ET - Fifth question is back to the debt ceiling: Why should House Republicans take your vow not to negotiate on the debt limit seriously if you made a similar vow in the past, and then engaged in negotiations?
12:10 p.m. ET - The president said lines to purchase guns are increasing because of "fear that's fanned by those who are worried about the possibility of legislation getting out there."
12:09 p.m. ET - Obama said he is confident there are steps he can take as chief executive to address gun violence that would not require legislation. He specifically referenced tracking weapons and gathering data on guns that have "fallen into the hands of criminals."
A view of Obama at today's press conference, from AFP/Getty Images.
12:07 p.m. ET - Fourth question goes back to gun control: What measures are you willing to take executive action on in regards to gun control? And what do you make of long lines at gun shops and gun shows as the gun control debate heats up?
12:05 p.m. ET - Obama said the U.S. will not be put in a position, in order to pay for spending already incurred, to "hurt the economy and middle class families" or "blow up the economy."
"We're not going to do that," the president said.
12:01 p.m. ET - Third question is also on the debt ceiling - if no one is talking to each other on how to raise the debt limit, then is it likely that the U.S. will default?
12:00 p.m. ET - The U.S. has to "stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis," Obama said. He called, as he often does for "discipline" and "compromise."
11:58 a.m. ET - The cuts needed to address the debt and deficit would not be possible, the president said, without cuts to Medicare and changes to Medicaid or changes in defenses spending, steps to which Obama said Republicans will not agree.
11:57 a.m. ET - Have a question on the debt ceiling? Read a comprehensive FAQ from CNNMoney here.
11:56 a.m. ET - The president again accused Republicans in the House and Senate with risking the full faith and credit of the United States.
That "is not what the founders intended and most Americans think Democracy should work," Obama said.
11:54 a.m. ET - Obama said he would accept the responsibility of raising the debt limit if Congress "gives me the autority." However, if they want to retain control of that responsibility, "then they need to go ahead and it get it done."
"There are no magic tricks," the president added. "We are not a dead beat nation."
11:53 a.m. ET - Second question goes back to the debt ceiling debate - are you considering a plan B to raise the debt limit?
11:52 a.m. ET - Obama mentioned stronger background checks for gun owners, limits on high capacity magazine clips and an assault weapons ban as options that are on the table to address gun violence.
"Will all of them get through Congress," Obama asked. "I don't know."
11:50 a.m. ET - For the latest on where the gun control debate stands, read this piece from CNN's Michael Pearson.
11:48 a.m. ET –Obama thanked Vice President Joe Biden for his work on "issues of gun violence" and said he will meet with Biden and review his proposals Monday. He said there will be a fuller presentation later in the week.
11:48 a.m. ET - First question to Obama is on gun violence. He's asked what gun control measures he'll pursue, keeping in mind any measure would need to garner Republican support in a divided Congress.
11:47 a.m. ET - If the United States does not raise the debt ceiling ahead of the impending deadline, there will be a "self inflicted wound to our economy" that could tip the country into a recession, the president said. He referenced the Social Security checks that would not go out and potential hits to veterans benefits, troop pay and contracts with small business owners.
11:46 a.m. ET - "America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether they should pay bills they have already racked up," Obama said in urging lawmakers to authorize an increase in the nation's debt ceiling.
11:42 a.m. ET - Obama said solving deficit issues will come through changes in health care spending and revenue from closing loopholes.
"They (the American people) want us to get our books in order in a balanced way," he said.
11:39 a.m. ET - Obama opened what is likely the last press conference of his first term in office describing his first four years as "busy and productive" and promising to carry out the agenda on which he campaigned during his second term in office, which he said includes shrinking deficits.
11:39 p.m. ET - Obama tells reporters that the American economy will have a good year, as long as politics in Washington don't interfere.
11:38 a.m. ET - Obama begins by saying it "might make sense to take some questions today as my first term comes to an end."
11:37 a.m. ET - The White House gives a two-minute warning for the beginning of the news conference.
11:33 a.m. ET - Another question to expect today - Why haven't more women been appointed to the president's second term cabinet? Thus far, Obama's nominees have including Sen. John Kerry for secretary of state, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, and Jack Lew for secretary of treasury - all white men.
Read more here.
11:29 a.m. ET - As Obama prepares to state his stance on the debt limit, House Republicans are planning maneuvering of their own, report CNN's Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash and Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh:
House Republican leaders appear more willing then before to allow the country to default on its loans and shut the government down, in order to force the president and Democrats to agree to spending cuts.
In conversations with House GOP leadership aides, it was clear they want to try to reclaim the upper hand in this debate over slashing government spending.
"If the White House continues to pretend that hoping is a strategy then I don't see how we make progress," said one House GOP leadership aide.
11:24 a.m. ET - One topic likely to arise during today's news conference: gun control. Listen to what NRA President David Keene said on the subject this Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
11:20 a.m. ET - President Obama's opening statement will focus on the debt limit, a White House official said.
The country's borrowing has actually already passed its legal limit – currently $16.394 trillion. As a result, the Treasury can't borrow any more money in the markets, so it has begun to use "extraordinary measures" to ensure that the government can continue to pay all its bills in full and on time. But those measures can only buy about two months' grace.
If the ceiling isn't raised by late February or early March, the United States runs the risk of defaulting on its obligations, because the Treasury would no longer have enough money available to pay all the country's bills.
He needs to remember that he is only The President and NOT the Dictator in Chief. He is though apparently completely out of touch on what a budget is.. and what it means to live within your means. The government simply can not spend money it does not have and can not raise without taxing us to death. What exacly has he lead the country into? He certainly has not lead us out of a recession.. but he has lead us into unchartered amounts of government debt with little benefit to the country.
Create a binding international treaty to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels deemed safe by scientific analysis to reduce global warming.
Phase out coal power plants to end their unacceptable harm to the climate, health and the economy.
End mountaintop removal in Appalachia.
Redirect research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in renewable energy and conservation.
Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, terrorist-proof energy.
Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies.
Stop hydrofracking to prevent devastating pollution of groundwater, destruction of roads from the transport of millions of tons of toxic water, and the threats of earthquakes recently determined to be caused by drilling and disposal of fracking water in seismically unstable regions.
End Federal subsidies for "clean coal" - an expensive, carbon intensive, unproven technology promoted by the coal industry public relations campaign.
Halt all drilling that poses a threat to public lands or water resources.
Halt the Keystone XL pipeline and bring the tar sand oils under a comprehensive climate protection treaty.
Anonymousfool–you apparently don't know the difference between deficit and debt.
Discussing anything with you is useless.
Obama and the Democratic controlled Senate have NOT passed a budget bill in over 4 years! Agree on a budget FIRST, then I'll buy the argument that we should honor our obligations. The Dems got their tax hikes. Now, it's time for the GOP to hold this debt ceiling debate hostage until significant spending cuts are agreed to. Anything else would be insane. Hold the line!!!!!
"11:39 p.m. ET – Obama tells reporters that the American economy will have a good year, as long as politics in Washington don't interfere."
HAHAHAHAHAHA, is he new here?
Seize assets of Bush and his contractors and make them pay for the use of our military.
With all due respect Mr. President, we need the 'balanced approach' you promised during your campaign.
All you have presented so far are higher taxes and a higher debt ceiling, neither one of which addresses spending. Start acting responsible, put a budget together and let America start living within her means before asking for more money to spend.
Make welfare and food stamp programs have a cut off point.People do need help sometimes. But they also need to learn to support themselves. I see people buying soda's and slurpees all the time at 7-11 using a food stamps card. Ridiclous!!!!!
Rudy NYC wrote ...only 1.4% over..."
Yes, when the individual doing the calculating used the same baseline UNTIL Obama's first term. Then the individual used a different baseline to show Obama in a better light. Look it up. The 1.4% has been discredited.
Why does the right wing have such a difficult time with simple math? Compare the total spending, in dollars, for every fiscal year since 2009. The growth has been only 1.4%
BTW, thanks for not denying the fact Bush grew his spending by 6-9% each year that he was in office.
Right on Dennis madden.
Make Bush family and their contractors pay for damages to this country and other countries. including central america. panama, paraguay, etc. Clintons too. Kosovo.
I'd tell Obama to F off more debt is NOT what this country needs we need less spending in DC
Obama wants this country to go broke so he can rebuilt it in his image
More fodder from the most divisive, combative and idealogical President in history. He has no plans to make any cuts and everyone know that except the posters here who live to kiss his feet no matter how much he damages our future. He is great at two things – lengthy and flowery speeches that mean nothing and wasting large amounts of our tax dollars.
Rob– So, without an enacted budget we should NOT honor our obligations? Interesting idea!
I Hope Obama lets the GOP cause a default. We will have a Dem-controlled House in 2015.
STOP letting the bankster cartels privatize profits and socialize losses.
Barack, as always you are wrong, yes we are a deadbeat nation. Let me explain. There are no decent jobs out there. Most of the jobs you say you have created are temporary and pay minimum wage. Real jobs paying 80K, 100K or so are practically non-existent (there are very few exceptions, of course). Our kids are graduating from college with thousands of dollars of debt and cannot find a decently-paying job. The number of defaults in college student loans is skyrocketing. Adults are returning to their parents' houses because they cannot even pay for rent. Poverty is rampant in the USA. The number of poor citizens has been increasing rapidly at least for the last five years. We are in debt, in a lot of debt. We owe 16 trillions to people all around the world. My great great great grand children will be paying for our uncontrolled spending. Our government is broken. The House belongs to the Republicans, the Senate to the Democrats and they are not willing to negotiate. It is my way or the highway. Well, guess what, nothing gets done like that. You must negotiate. And the list goes on and on. Yes, we are a deadbeat country.
This President is a threat to the US Constitution as well as clear and present danger to the US' sovereignty. His policies will most certainly make the US a third world nation. I guess this is what Obama meant by "Change".
Hey republicans we know Obama is not the leader you wanted you didnt vote for him. If Republican leaders had all the answers why did Obama come in office to a deficit any way. If Republicans had the answers why is there unemployment why did the economy fail. Republican claim liberals are idiots but all statistics show that liberals tend to have a higher education than republicans. The Richest man in America is a democrat the second is a democrat but I should listen to a republican who majority of supporters live in the poorest states in the union which is also a fact.
End the Federal Reserve.
Our president has absolutely no clue how the economy works. Very frightening. The damage this man is doing is going to be a terrible burden on our children. We used to care about future generations in this country. I don't think this President cares much about anything except the "game" of politics. He certainly doesn't understand a budget.
Sequestration doesn't look like a bad option anymore: $110B in reduced spending this FY, half from Defense.
I almost feel sorry for the young voters that will be stuck with the bills....but than again they did elect him.
And Nero keeps fiddling while Rome begins to burn...... Wake up Mr. President.