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Congress 'playing with fire' on debt limit, warns Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (+video)

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"The White House has spoken quite clearly to this," Lew said. "The president does not have the authority to take action in that kind of a way. The president consulted with his lawyers, and that's the conclusion that he's reached."

"You know, there is a desire here for there to be some kind of a magic solution," he continued, addressing the current government budget shutdown as well as the debt-limit crisis. "There is an easy solution ... A majority in Congress would do the right thing if given a chance to vote to open the government. A majority in Congress would do the right thing if given a chance to let us pay our bills. Congress needs to work, they need to do their job, but the majority needs to be given a chance."

“The majority” in this case would be all the Democrats and a couple dozen Republicans – those willing to vote for a “clean” continuing budget resolution unencumbered by any attempt to stymie the new health-care insurance law dubbed “Obamacare” – in a House of Representatives controlled by the GOP and its embattled speaker, John Boehner.

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