With the deadline for raising the nation's debt limit and prospects for financial-market panic now a week away, an impatient, frustrated President Barack Obama warned the nation Monday night that the partisan impasse risks "sparking a deep economic crisis, this one caused almost entirely by Washington."
But House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, presenting the case for the Republicans, countered that "the solution to this crisis is not that complicated. If you're spending more money than you're taking in, you need to spend less of it."
Obama and the Democrats should just accept the massive spending cut package pushed by the GOP, Boehner said - but Obama, he charged, "wants a blank check today."
Obama's 15-minute nationally televised address capped a day when Senate Democrats' and House Republicans' positions hardened, as each group unveiled deficit-cutting plans Monday that showed the two sides remain sharply divided.
The key conflict dividing the new Republican and Democratic congressional plans involved the length of any new debt-limit increase. Republicans in the House of Representatives want to increase it in two stages, the first a short-term stopgap that would last through early next year. Democrats want a new ceiling that will last through the 2012 elections.