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U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Thursday urged Congress to raise the government's borrowing limit before October 17, ...
warning that a Republican idea to prioritize payments could cause "irrevocable damage" to the U.S. economy. (Oct. 10)
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SHOTLIST:Pool - AP Clients OnlyWashington, DC - October 10. 20131. SOUNDBITE (English) Jacob Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary:"The president remains willing to negotiate over the future direction of fiscal policy but he will not negotiate over whether the United States should pay its bills.Certain members of the House and Senate also believe that it's possible to protect our economy by simply paying only the interest on our debts while stopping or delaying payments on a number of our other legal commitments. How can the United States choose whether to send Social Security checks to seniors or pay benefits to Veterans? How can the United States choose whether to provide children with food assistance or meet our obligations to Medicare providers?The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens. There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets."2. SOUNDBITE (English) Jacob Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary:"You know, I think prioritization is just default by another name. It's just saying that we will default on some subset of our obligations. But it -- we are still -- we are, by definition, if we don't have enough money to pay all of our bills, we will be in default on our obligations."STORYLINE:U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Thursday urged Congress to raise the government's borrowing limit before October 17, warning that a Republican idea to prioritize payments with cash on hand could cause "irrevocable damage" to the U.S. economy.In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Lew said that trying to make such perilous choices between paying veterans or Social Security checks is not a good option and risks the first default on U.S. debt in history. He repeated the administration's demand that Congress pass legislation needed to end a partial government shutdown and raise the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. "The president remains willing to negotiate over the future direction of fiscal policy, but he will not negotiate over whether the United States should pay its bills," Lew told the committee.President Barack Obama was to meet later Thursday with top House Republicans at the White House to seek a path beyond a confrontation that has left the government shuttered for close to two weeks.Lew said that the government's payment systems were not designed to allow him to pick and choose which bills. He said the government's computer systems issue around 80 million payments each month."Prioritization is just default by another name," Lew said.