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Democrats return fire after John Boehner's opening debt-ceiling salvo (+video)

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(Read caption) On US debt, House Speaker John Boehner says Obama playing 'small ball' with US economy
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Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday vowed that the House will not wait until after November elections to find a way to avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff" – and that House Republicans will, again, refuse to raise the national debt limit, unless Congress offsets the hike with spending cuts.

"Previous Congresses have encountered lesser precipices with lower stakes and made a beeline for the closest lame-duck escape hatch," Mr. Boehner said, at a speech at a fiscal summit sponsored by the Peterson Foundation in Washington.  "Let me put your mind at ease. This Congress will not follow that path, not if I have anything to do with it."

But Democrats bristled at the way Boehner would keep the United States from financial Armageddon – an approach that the House Budget Committee's ranking Democrat likened to "playing chicken with our economy."

With Congress putting off an 18-wheeler's worth of challenges until the lame-duck session between the November elections and the new year, it could be said that all of Capitol Hill is staring down a massive financial collision. Whether to extend the Bush tax cuts and the budget-slashing "sequester," raise the debt ceiling, extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday, and fix payments to physicians from Medicare may all have to be resolved in only six short weeks. 

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