President Barack Obama warned Republicans against using the debt ceiling as a “bargaining chip,” saying a failure to raise it would sow financial chaos and send markets into a tailspin. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills — it is irresponsible, it is absurd,” Obama said, repeating his demand for a rise in the nation’s borrowing limit. “We are not a deadbeat nation,” the president said in the final press conference of his first White House term. “While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up.” Congressional refusal to raise the debt limit beyond its current level of $16.4 trillion could delay key government payments, including Social Security checks and veterans benefits, paychecks to troops, air traffic controllers and the honoring of contracts with small businesses. It could also result in another downgrade of the US credit rating, with potentially severe consequences for the global economy. “Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a…
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