WASHINGTON - (AP) - President Barack Obama on Monday night criticized a newly minted Republican plan to avert an unprecedentedgovernment default and said congressional leaders must produce acompromise that can reach his desk before the Aug. 2 deadline.
"The American people may have voted for divided government, butthey didn't vote for a dysfunctional government," the presidentsaid in a hastily arranged prime-time televised speech. He appealedto the public to contact lawmakers and demand "a balancedapproach" to reducing federal deficits.
Obama stepped to the microphones a few hours after firstRepublicans, then Democrats drafted rival fallback legislationMonday to avert a potentially devastating government default inlittle more than a week.
Obama said the approach unveiled earlier in the day by HouseSpeaker John Boehner would raise the nation's debt limit only longenough to push off the threat of default for six months. "In otherwords, it doesn't solve the problem," he said.
The president had scarcely completed his remarks when Boehnermade an extraordinary rebuttal carried live on the nation'snetworks.
"The president has often said we need a `balanced' approach,which in Washington means we spend more, you pay more," the OhioRepublican said, speaking from a room just off the House floor.
"The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check sixmonths ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just notgoing to happen."
Directly challenging the president, Boehner said there "is nostalemate in Congress."
He said the Republicans' newest legislation would clear theHouse, could clear the Senate and then would be sent to Obama forhis signature.