President Obama stepped up his demands on Congress Monday to raise the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling so the nation can pay its bills.
"We are not a deadbeat nation," he said at a White House press conference.
The president said he would not negotiate with Congress on the debt ceiling, but would seek a "balanced" approach to reduce the nation's deficit in the months ahead with a combination of modest reductions to programs and revenues from closing tax loopholes. Republican leaders have said they will demand steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt-limit.
"They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," Obama said, adding that for lawmakers to not raise the debt ceiling because they don't get everything the want in return would be disastrous for the improving economy.
The nation reached the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on Dec. 31. The treasury has been taking "extraordinary steps" to extend the time before defaulting, which may happen as soon as mid-February if Congress doesn't act.
"This is about paying your bills," Obama said. "You don't go out to dinner, eat all you want, and leave without paying the check. And if you do, you are breaking the law. If Congress wants to have a debate over whether we should go out to dinner next time, or we should go to a more modest restaurant, that's fine."