Treasury chief: 'Congress is playing with fire'

9:23 AM, Oct 6, 2013   |    comments
Jack Lew (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)
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(USA Today) -- Treasury Secretary Jack Lew toured the interview shows Sunday to warn that Congress is "playing with fire" in opposing an increase to the debt ceiling.

Lew again warned that Oct. 17 -- a week from Thursday -- is the day the government hits the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, and loses the legal borrowing authority to pay existing bills.

"I'm telling you that on the 17th, we run out of our ability to borrow," Lew said on CNN's State of the Union.

That would damage government programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans programs, and disability programs, Lew said during appearances on Fox News Sunday, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face The Nation, and NBC's Meet The Press.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, criticized President Obama to refusing to negotiate on legislation to raise the debt ceiling and to end the government shutdown now in its sixth day.

"The president just can't sit there and say, 'I'm not going to negotiate,'" said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaking on ABC's This Week.

The GOP-run House wants a debt ceiling bill or a new spending plan to include a one-year delay in parts of Obama's health care law; Obama, Lew, and other Democrat say the health care delays are unacceptable.

On Fox News Sunday, Lew told Fox News said Boehner and congressional Republicans are forcing "ridiculous" choices, and have a responsibility to fund the government and pay the nation's bills.

"Congress needs to do its job," Lew said.

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