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March 27, 2023

Obama appeals to middle class on debt talks

WASHINGTON – Evoking compromises of the past, President Barack Obama said Saturday that a commitment to shared sacrifice can break the current impasse on the debt ceiling, CNN reports. “Let’s be honest. Neither party in this town is blameless,” he said in his weekly address. “Both have talked this problem to death without doing enough about it. That’s what drives people nuts about Washington.”

Obama used his address to reach out to the middle class, reiterating his call for higher taxes on the wealthy and reforms to politically popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He cited budget deals forged by President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill as well as President Bill Clinton and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, crediting them with making sacrifices that benefited the common good. Republicans, meanwhile, renewed their call for an amendment to require a balanced budget.

While saying he has not given up hope for a broad deficit- reduction deal, the president stressed Friday he has not ruled out less ambitious plans focused more narrowly on a debt ceiling increase.

Tense negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans, reflecting core ideological principles on taxes and the size of government, have become a race against the clock. Administration officials have warned that a failure to raise the current USD 14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling by August 2 could trigger a partial default. If Washington lacks the money to pay its bills, interest rates could skyrocket and the value of the dollar could decline, among other things.

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