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Obama: Don’t Tie Debt Limit To Fiscal Cliff

President Warns Republicans Against Raising Default Talk

  • President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play."  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play."  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama walks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, as he returned from speaking about the fiscal cliff at Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama walks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, as he returned from speaking about the fiscal cliff at Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to a closed Republican strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to a closed Republican strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves".  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves". (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves".  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves". (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play."  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play."  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, and the House GOP leadership leave after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, following a closed-door GOP strategy session. At left is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about the fiscal cliff at the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.  The president warned Republicans not to create another fight over the nation's debt ceiling, telling business leaders it's "not a game that I will play." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama walks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, as he returned from speaking about the fiscal cliff at Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to a closed Republican strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves".  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a closed-door Republican strategy session, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking about the fiscal cliff, Boehner said Wednesday that the White House had failed to offer a "balanced approach" that had a chance of clearing either chamber of Congress. "We can't negotiate with ourselves".  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the fiscal cliff during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Jason Furman, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, gestures as he speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., right, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, to talk about the debate on tax rates and the fiscal cliff.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

— Hewing to a hard line, President Obama warned congressional Republicans yesterday not to inject the threat of a government default into complex fiscal cliff negotiations aimed at avoiding year-end tax increases and spending cuts that could harm the economy.

“It’s not a game I will play,” declared Obama as Republicans struggled to find their footing in talks with a recently re-elected president and unified congressional Democrats.

Among the Republicans, Sen. Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, became the latest to break ranks and say he could support Obama’s demand for an increase in tax rates at upper incomes as part of a comprehensive plan to cut federal deficits.

Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Republicans want to “sit down with the president. We want to talk specifics.” He noted that the GOP had made a compromise offer earlier in the week and the White House had rejected it.

Since then, neither Obama nor congressional Democrats have signaled interest in negotiations that both sides say are essential to a compromise. Presidential aides have even encouraged speculation that Obama is willing to let the economy go over the “fiscal cliff” if necessary and gamble that the public blames Republicans for any fallout.

Eventually, Democrats acknowledge, there will be compromise talks, possibly quite soon, toward an agreement that raises revenues, reins in Medicare and other government benefit programs, and perhaps raises the government’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.

For now, the demonstration of presidential inflexibility appears designed to show that, unlike two years ago, Obama will refuse to sign legislation extending top-rate tax cuts and also to allow public and private pressure to build on the Republican leadership.

So far, the GOP has offered to support non-specified increases to raise tax revenues by $800 billion over a decade but has rejected Obama’s demand to let the top income tax rate rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

To buttress their case, Republican officials in Congress pointed to numerous proposals that Obama has previously advanced that could generate the same amount of revenue he is seeking — without raising rates. The list includes limiting the tax deductions taken by upper-income taxpayers, raising taxes on the oil and gas industry and curbing or eliminating the deductibility of tax-exempt bonds.

Separately, in a bit of political theater, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to allow a vote on Obama’s current plan, which calls for a $1.6 trillion tax increase over a decade, in an attempt to show it lacks support.

The majority leader, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, of Nevada, refused.

The “fiscal cliff,” with its year-end deadline, refers to increases that would affect every worker who pays federal income tax, as well as spending cuts that would begin to bite defense and domestic programs alike. Economists in and out of government say the combination carries the risk of a new recession, at a time the economy is still struggling to recover fully from the worst slowdown in decades.

Obama delivered his latest warning at a meeting of the Business Roundtable a few blocks from the White House.