In St. Petersburg, Florida, Romney blasted Obama’s spending record while standing in front of a digital debt clock that showed $16 trillion and counting.
“I find it incomprehensible that a president could come to office and call his predecessor’s record irresponsible and unpatriotic, and then do almost nothing to fix it and instead every year add more and more spending,” Romney said.
After mainly attacking Obama and his Democrats on the sluggish economy and
high unemployment, Romney and other Republicans are opening a new front on an issue where they feel they have the upper hand – runaway Washington spending. Anxiety over U.S. debt swept dozens of Tea Party fiscal conservatives into Congress in 2010.
“They believe that talking about fiscal problems – the debt and the deficits – are good issues for them,” said Ethan Siegal, who tracks Washington politics for institutional investors. “It puts Obama on the defensive, and it gins up the fiscal activist base” within the Republican Party.
After meeting with President Barack Obama and senior Democratic lawmakers over lunch at the White House , top Republicans came away thinking the Democratic president does not want new spending cuts to accompany any legislation to increase the debt limit.
Democrats disputed the accuracy of that impression, but such a stance by
Obama would put Democrats on a fiscal collision course with Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who, according to aides, told the president that “I’m not going to allow a debt ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt.”
The U.S. Treasury is now expected to reach the $16.4 trillion debt limit sometime between the November 6 election and early 2013, an event that
eventually would halt government borrowing, force shutdowns of many operations and threaten the government’s ability to repay maturing debt.
“It is simply not acceptable to hold the American and global economy hostage to one party’s political ideology,” Carney said, an apparent reference to compromise-resistant Republicans in Congress who will not accept any tax increases as part of a plan to trim the government’s debt.
The meeting took place a day after Boehner issued a demand that any increase in federal borrowing authority be exceeded by spending cuts.
A Boehner aide said the speaker asked Obama at the White House whether he was proposing that Congress pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts.