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Obama Warns Social Security Checks at Risk in Debt Limit Debate

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In his final news conference of his first term, Obama pushed Congress to raise the debt ceiling, saying a delay could push the nation into another recession.

“The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved.”

In a statement that came out before the president’s news conference had concluded, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the debate over the debt ceiling is the “perfect time” to cut spending.

Hill Democrats are in sync with the president on not negotiating over the debt ceiling, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York said Monday.

“The view at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, among Democrats in both houses, is very strong, that if they want to say that, ‘In return for raising the debt ceiling, we want you to do A, B, C and D,’ that we’re not going to negotiate,” the No. 3 Senate Democratic leader said.

However, Senate Democratic leaders sent a letter to the president on Friday urging him to take “any lawful step” to unilaterally approve a debt limit hike — and others, including Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., have repeatedly urged him to do so as well.

But the White House and Treasury Department — and now the president — have ruled out options such as using the 14th Amendment or minting a $1 trillion coin in order to extend the government’s borrowing capacity without congressional approval.

Asked about the difficulty of passing gun legislation, Obama said lawmakers are going to have to look into their consciences and that the concern that the federal government would “take all your guns away” was unwarranted.

“The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment. The issue is: Are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a — in a shockingly rapid fashion? And surely we can do something about that,” he said.

Obama also reacted to the repeated criticism that he doesn’t socialize enough with Congress and particularly with the GOP.

He joked that he might have more time to play cards with people now that his daughters are older and want less to do with him.

Obama also said he regularly has events with members of Congress at the White House and is very nice to them, only to have them go to the floor of the House and call him a big-spending Socialist.

He noted that members don’t always come to the White House when invited, which he suspects is because of concerns about facing primary challenges. On the big issues, Congress will change when the American people reject lawmakers who keep uncompromising positions and reward those looking for common ground, he said.

“That’ll be true whether I’m the life of the party or a stick in the mud,” he said.

Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.

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