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Boehner: Start Debt-ceiling Talks Now

5/17/2012 2:11 PM ET

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday publicly prodded congressional Democrats and the White House into talks to raise the country's debt ceiling again before the November elections.

Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference, Boehner, R-Ohio, took the unusual step of speaking out because he said he wanted to avoid a repeat of 2011, when Democrats and Republicans could not agree on a resolution for several months, plummeting public approval of Congress.

Boehner cast his comments as a way to force Democrats to address the country's financial problems and head off any looming cuts to the nation's defense budget, which many GOP congressmen want to avoid. Boehner spoke one day after a private meeting with Obama which Boehner described as "pretty productive."

"We shouldn't wait until the 11th hour to address these issues," Boehner told reporters. "The reality is that the danger of a (credit rating) downgrade comes from continued inaction on the deficit and our piling debt… We all know this is coming. All I'm suggesting is that it's time for us to talk about this."

Congress last raised the debt ceiling last summer, just days before U.S. officials had warned the country was facing financial catastrophe. Indeed, just days after President Obama signed the legislation into law, the Standard and Poor's credit rating agency downgraded the country's credit rating for the first time in history. Republicans generally paid a higher price than Democrats in public approval ratings after the crisis.

Boehner noted that the Senate and House have both failed to generate a single 'yes' vote for Obama's budget proposal earlier this year, meaning that negotiations are the only way forward.

The speaker also brushed aside any speculation that debt-ceiling talks would be too difficult in an election year.

"I'm an optimist. I was born with the glass half-full," Boehner said. " I don't misunderstand the difficulty in coming to an agreement. But let's be honest. We know the end of the year is coming, and if we don't use this opportunity to raise the debt limit and make real changes in how we spend the American people's money, we're missing a golden opportunity."

by RTT Staff Writer

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