President Obama warns failure to raise debt ceiling could delay payments to vets, SS recipients

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says Congress' failure to raise the government's borrowing authority would delay payments of benefits to veterans and Social Security recipients. He again warned that he will not negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, aiming to pin the burden of an unprecedented default on congressional Republicans.

The government has hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and is expected to run out of ways to meet all of its obligations around March 1, perhaps earlier. Republicans wants spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Threatening to not raise the debt ceiling, Obama said, is "absurd."

Without an increase, the government would not have enough money to pay interest to debt holders and pay for all government programs.

He made the remarks at a news conference, the last of his first term, in the East Room of the White House Monday morning.

Obama warned the debt limit debate already is hurting economy and wants more than a 3-month extension.

Obama went on to say he's reviewing a list of proposals from Vice President Joe Biden about how to reduce gun violence and expects to present specifics later this week.

He said stronger background checks, a meaningful ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines are all ideas he thinks make sense. He says he's not sure how many of those measures can pass Congress.

Obama said he expects Congress to set aside politics and focus on common-sense steps that can make a difference.

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