White House officials were firm on Monday that President Barack Obama would not negotiate with congressional Republicans under the threat of a debt default and repeated that it is up to Congress to raise the US borrowing cap.
"There has never been a period where you have a serious faction or a serious strategy by one political party ... to use the threat of default as the main tactic in extracting policy," White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said at a Politico breakfast.
Sperling spoke a day after House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, took a hard line on the deadlock that has shut down the government and threatens an unprecedented default as early as Oct. 17, saying he would not raise the debt limit without a concession from the president.
Holding up an increase in the debt limit in exchange for political concessions would set a dangerous precedent, Sperling said. "You know how this goes," he said. "It will be used time and again, and there will be payback if there is a Republican president."
Sperling and White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman said there is no easy recourse if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. The White House believes that language in the US Constitution does not give the president authority to raise the debt limit unilaterally.