White House aide: Not raising debt limit could lead to a depression

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 25, 2011, on the approaching debt limit deadline. AP

Following up on President Obama's debt ceiling speech to the nation, the White House is notching up the pressure on Republicans one week before the administration's stated deadline for the nation to avoid a potential government default.

In a dire assessment, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told CBS Radio News, "We are seven days away from an unprecedented financial event in this country's history, one that could potentially put us towards a depression because the House Republicans led by Speaker Boehner are unwilling to compromise one inch." (listen to the interview above)

Pfeiffer added, "Right now the ball is in Speaker Boehner's court. "

The White House communications chief said Boehner is pushing a bill "that would do tremendous damage to our economy." Boehner is proposing a plan that includes a short-term bill to reduce spending by approximately $1.2 billion while extending the debt ceiling for about six months.

Obama takes debt case to American people
Boehner: Obama created the "crisis" atmosphere
Congressional phones jammed after Obama's appeal

President Obama has rejected that approach. Even as he repeated his call for a plan to lower deficits with spending cuts and new revenues, the president voiced support for Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's plan that would cut deficits by about $2.7 trillion over a decade exclusively with spending cuts.

Accepting a plan that excludes a revenue component would be a significant retreat from the president's strategy. Pfeiffer framed the president's revised stand as an endorsement of a compromise proposal. Despite the exclusion of some of the president's cherished revenue goals, Pfeiffer described the Reid plan as "a serious proposal to reduce spending. It's also designed to be able to pass both bodies of Congress."

Boehner: I didn't want "mano-a-mano" with Obama
No blood spilled in dueling debt speeches
Boehner faces uphill fight to pass his debt plan

The top White House aide reiterated the president's commitment to end the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy. Pfeiffer said either Congress will work with the administration to get rid of the cuts or "he has a veto pen to ensure they end" when they are set to expire next year.

Pfeiffer again insisted default is "something we can not allow to happen." But following last night's dueling Obama-Boehner speeches to the nation, the two sides appear to remain far apart on a solution to the approaching crisis, perhaps farther apart than ever.

As University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato told CBS Radio, "The only thing that they [Obama and Boehner] agreed on is that the United States will not default. The big question we all have is how are they going to make sure that's not going to happen? They didn't tell us."

From CBS MoneyWatch.com:

With 2 Sides Far Apart on Debt Ceiling Debate, Wall Street Shrugs (For Now)
Debt Ceiling Deal: Damned if They Do, Damned if They Don't
Federal Budget Gridlock: 5 Moves to Protect Your Money

  • Peter Maer On Twitter»

    Peter Maer is a CBS News White House Correspondent.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now