White House budget director Jacob Lew dismissed opponents of a debt limit hike as “fringe” and predicted Sunday that a catastrophic debt default would be averted.
“There will be a fringe that believes that playing with Armageddon is a good idea, but I don’t think that’s where a majority will be,” the director of the Office of Management and Budget said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Congressional leaders recognize that not raising the debt ceiling would be irresponsible, Lew said, and he refused to say whether the White House would prioritize Social Security payments if Congress refused to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline.
He also criticized the fallback options under consideration in Congress that would postpone deficit reduction decisions. “We need to get the job done now, and we need to do as much as we can do,” he said. “The U.S. credit rating is at stake, and our place in the world is at stake.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are crafting a debt limit package that would kick the creation of a deficit reduction package to a joint Congressional committee and would give the president the power to raise the debt limit by $2.5 trillion.
Lew said there is plenty of time to reach a big deficit reduction deal before Aug. 2.
“The president’s made clear that we need to do more than that,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.