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The debt ceiling rhetoric begins

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The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that prevented the fiscal cliff was signed by President Obama on Jan. 3, at least a day after both he and Republican leaders said they would stand firm in their debt ceiling positions as the government enters the final two-month window before it will not have enough money to pay its bills.

It was signed three days after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reported the country had officially reached the debt ceiling and projected Treasury could extend its books until Feb. 28.

"While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up," Obama said shortly before midnight on Jan. 1.

He also said that not raising the debt ceiling and paying the government's debts would have global economic implications "far worse than the impact of the fiscal cliff."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a statement Jan. 2 that the Senate must act on legislation in early February instead of passing the buck. "Once the Senate passes bipartisan legislation, we can conference with the House on a solution. But this time the entire Senate must have an opportunity to act," McConnell said.

In his Jan. 1 statement about the Taxpayer Relief Act, McConnell said the lengthy battle should not be the model for future negotiations, especially those on the debt ceiling.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a Jan. 1 statement that Republicans will use the debate on spending "to hold the president accountable for the 'balanced' approach he promised," which must include spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

Obama will not budge from his stance, however, say Democrats including Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "He's not going to be politically blackmailed with the debt-ceiling threat," Van Hollen told The Washington Post.

The debt ceiling crisis of 2011 cost the federal government at least $1.3 billion, caused the United States' credit rating to be downgraded, delayed federal modernization efforts and hurt consumer confidence.

For more:
- read a transcript of the president's Jan. 1 statement
- see McConnell's Jan. 2 and Jan. 1 releases
- read the Washington Post article

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