Lawmakers urge Obama to accept mandatory restraints on spending

Lawmakers in both parties are urging President Obama to offer a detailed plan for curbing the national debt in the speech he is to deliver Wednesday, warning that they will not authorize fresh borrowing unless he agrees to mandatory restraints on future spending.

With the debt nudging closer to the legal limit — set at $14.3 trillion — anxiety is running high on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are reluctant to approve legislation that would permit the debt to rise or to face the potentially devastating economic consequences if the government were to stop borrowing and default on its obligations.

Just to see the nation through next year, lawmakers would have to raise the limit by nearly $2.2 trillion under the spending plan Obama submitted to Congress in February, according to congressional budget analysts. Even the austere blueprint that House Republicans plan to approve this week would require about $1.9 trillion in fresh debt by October 2012 — a month before the next presidential election.

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