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.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.