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Obama: Potential default hindered hiring

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama used Friday's bleak jobs report to prod Congress toward a swift agreement on deficits and the national debt.

But the higher unemployment numbers hardened partisan views that a weak economy can't tolerate added taxes or cuts in spending -- both key to the grand deal Obama hopes to reach with lawmakers.

White House and congressional negotiators and their aides worked to bridge differences about how to reduce long-term deficits by up to $4 trillion over 10 years. Obama plans to call the eight top leaders of Congress to the White House on Sunday to assess progress.

A budget agreement is central to increasing the borrowing limit, currently capped at $14.3 trillion, by Aug. 2 to avoid a potentially catastrophic government default. That looming deadline and a new unemployment rate of 9.2 percent heightened the pressure, uniting the two most high-profile challenges now facing Obama's presidency.

Obama called on Congress to move quickly to raise the debt ceiling, saying uncertainty over a potential default has hindered hiring.

"The sooner we get this done, the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit, the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and hire," Obama said.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) embraced the desire to act with speed, even though some members of his party questioned the urgency. "While some think that, you know, we can go past Aug. 2, I frankly think it puts us in an awful lot of jeopardy and puts our economy in jeopardy, risking even more jobs," he said.

Both parties agree that if Washington does not raise the debt ceiling by early next month, the economy will be deeply shaken and perhaps slip back into recession.

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