President Barack Obama on Monday asked the Congress to raise the debt limit to save the country from defaulting and failing to pay its soldiers, veterans and social security.
Addressing the last news briefing of this his first term the President also said he is going to announce next week new measures to control gun violence.
And, he added, on a lighter note, he will have more time to socialize now that his daughters are grown up enough to not have him around that much.
On debt talks, the president sounded determined to not give in. And said the Congress -- actually a small group of Republicans in the House -- will be blamed for any shutdown.
“They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy,” Obama said, adding, “The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better decide quickly because time is running short.”
The debt limit must be raised to prevent a default before April 1.
Republican want to raise the limit only if there are matching cuts in future spending. Obama wants to delink the two saying -- the debt refers to money already spent as approved by congress.
On gun control, the President said, he will ask Congress to enact new legislation in the wake of the shootings that left 20 elementary students dead at a Newtown, Connecticut school, a month ago.
Among the proposals under consideration are a ban on assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. Obama said he would unveil his proposals next week.
He also said he was aware of the opposition from the National Rifle Association and added that lawmakers may not approve everything he asks for.
He also defended his record on diversity asking critics not to rush to judge him on the basis of just the four appointments he has announced so far: John Kerry for secretary of state, Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, Jack Lew for secretary of treasury and John Brennan as director of the CIA. He has been criticized by some for not naming a woman to any of those top jobs.
He said let him complete the process.