President Obama signs debt ceiling increase passed by Congress
This afternoon President Barack Obama signed legislation to increase the nation's borrowing authority and avert government default. Congress linked the debt ceiling increase to deficit reductions. But they will be only accomplished through spending cuts, not revenue increases. President Obama said that for future deficit reductions, to expect even more cuts, including to Medicare, in addition to higher taxes.
âThis compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction. Itâs an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means. Yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs, and assures that weâre not cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.
âThis is, however, just the first step. This compromise requires that both parties work together on a larger plan to cut the deficit, which is important for the long-term health of our economy. And since you canât close the deficit with just spending cuts, weâll need a balanced approach where everything is on the table. Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so theyâre there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share. And it means getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies, and tax loopholes that help billionaires pay a lower tax rate than teachers and nurses.â
Obama signed the bill without ceremony in the Oval Office this afternoon about an hour after the Senate approved the debt deal 74 to 26. Floridaâs Republican Senator, Marco Rubio voted against the deal. Democrat Bill Nelson spoke on the floor of the Senate before he voted for the deal.
The deal capped months of contentious and partisan debate. It includes an increase in the debt ceiling and promises of more than $2 trillion of budget cuts over the next decade. More cuts will have to be made before the ceiling can be raised again after the next presidential election.
Information from wire services, including AP, was used in this report.
Full text of Obama speech as provided by the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release August 2, 2011
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
1:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Congress has now approved a compromise to reduce the deficit and avert a default that would have devastated our economy. It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together for the good of the country.
This compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction. Itâs an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means. Yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs, and assures that weâre not cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.
This is, however, just the first step. This compromise requires that both parties work together on a larger plan to cut the deficit, which is important for the long-term health of our economy. And since you canât close the deficit with just spending cuts, weâll need a balanced approach where everything is on the table. Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so theyâre there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share. And it means getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies, and tax loopholes that help billionaires pay a lower tax rate than teachers and nurses.
Iâve said it before; I will say it again: We canât balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession. We canât make it tougher for young people to go to college, or ask seniors to pay more for health care, or ask scientists to give up on promising medical research because we couldnât close a tax shelter for the most fortunate among us. Everyone is going to have to chip in. Itâs only fair. Thatâs the principle Iâll be fighting for during the next phase of this process.
And in the coming months, Iâll continue also to fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth. While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking what we can do to help the father looking for work. What are we going to do for the single mom whoâs seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that ânow hiringâ sign?
Thatâs part of the reason that people are so frustrated with whatâs been going on in this town. In the last few months, the economy has already had to absorb an earthquake in Japan, the economic headwinds coming from Europe, the Arab Spring and the [rise] in oil prices -- all of which have been very challenging for the recovery. But these are things we couldnât control. Our economy didnât need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands. Itâs pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling -- for both businesses and consumers -- has been unsettling, and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need. And it was something that we could have avoided entirely.
So, voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didnât vote for dysfunctional government. They want us to solve problems. They want us to get this economy growing and adding jobs. And while deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda. Growing the economy isnât just about cutting spending; itâs not about rolling back regulations that protect our air and our water and keep our people safe. Thatâs not how weâre going to get past this recession. Weâre going to have to do more than that.
And thatâs why, when Congress gets back from recess, I will urge them to immediately take some steps -- bipartisan, common-sense steps -- that will make a difference; that will create a climate where businesses can hire, where folks have more money in their pockets to spend, where people who are out of work can find good jobs.
We need to begin by extending tax cuts for middle-class families so that you have more money in your paychecks next year. If youâve got more money in your paycheck, youâre more likely to spend it. And that means small businesses and medium-sized businesses and large businesses will all have more customers. That means theyâll be in a better position to hire.
And while weâre at it, we need to make sure that millions of workers who are still pounding the pavement looking for jobs to support their families are not denied needed unemployment benefits.
Through patent reform, we can cut the red tape that stops too many inventors and entrepreneurs from quickly turning new ideas into thriving businesses -- which holds our whole economy back. And I want Congress to pass a set of trade deals -- deals weâve already negotiated -- that would help displaced workers looking for new jobs and would allow our businesses to sell more products in countries in Asia and South America, products that are stamped with the words âMade in America.â
We also need to give more opportunities to all those construction workers out there who lost their jobs when the housing boom went bust. We could put them to work right now, by giving loans to private companies that want to repair our roads and our bridges and our airports, rebuilding our infrastructure. We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding; an infrastructure bank would help us put them together.
And while weâre on the topic of infrastructure, thereâs another stalemate in Congress right now involving our aviation industry which has stalled airport construction projects all around the country and put the jobs of tens of thousands of construction workers and others at risk -â because of politics. Itâs another Washington-inflicted wound on America, and Congress needs to break that impasse now â- hopefully before the Senate adjourns -â so these folks can get back to work.
So these are some things that we could be doing right now. Thereâs no reason for Congress not to send me those bills so I can sign them into law right away as soon as they get back from recess. Both parties share power in Washington, and both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy. Itâs not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility; it is our collective responsibility as Americans. And Iâll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.
So, weâve seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when thereâs a timer ticking down, and when thereâs a looming disaster. It shouldnât take the risk of default -â the risk of economic catastrophe -â to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs. Because thereâs already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families, in a lot of communities, all across the country. Theyâre looking for work, and they have been for a while; or theyâre making do with fewer hours or fewer customers; or theyâre just trying to make ends meet. That ought to compel Washington to cooperate. That ought to compel Washington to compromise, and it ought to compel Washington to act. That ought to be enough to get all of us in this town to do the jobs we were sent here to do. Weâve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work. Thatâs what I intend to do, and Iâm looking forward to working with Congress to make it happen.
Thanks very much, everybody.
END 1:14 P.M. EDT
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