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Tim Geithner Confident Congress Will Raise Debt Ceiling: Not Doing So Would Be 'Catastrophic' (VIDEO)


First Posted: 04/17/11 11:50 AM ET Updated: 06/17/11 06:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday he's certain congressional lawmakers will come together to raise the nation's debt limit and warned of dire consequences if they don't.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling," Geithner told ABC News "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour.

According to Geithner, members of Congress conveyed this view to President Obama on Wednesday at the White House.

"I sat there with them, and they said, we recognize we have to do this. And we're not going to play around with it," Geithner said. "We know that the risk would be catastrophic. It's not something you can take too close to the edge."

This sentiment differs significantly from what some lawmakers say publicly. "I will oppose any attempt to vote to raise the limit on our $14 trillion debt until Congress passes the balanced-budget amendment," declared Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made similar statements.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Geithner said lawmakers who play politics with the debt ceiling will have to own the consequences.

"I've spent a lot of time with Republicans and Democrats on this -- I saw with the Senate Finance Committee last week -- and they absolutely understand the stakes in this, and the leadership understand that you can't play around with this," he said. "You can't take it too long. And those people up there who are telling people that you can take this to the brink because it gives them some leverage, they're going to own the responsibility for the risk that creates for the American economy."

On CNN's "State of the Union," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) seemed willing to explore attaching provisions to a debt ceiling hike. When asked by host Candy Crowley whether he would consider some spending cuts, he replied, "Of course. I think that we need to have conversations about how we reduce spending. We also need to have a conversation about how we get some equality into our tax code again."

Federal law currently caps the federal debt at $14.3 trillion. But sometime in the next month, the United States will inevitably surpass that amount. Congress consistently votes to raise the nation's debt ceiling, a decision it face again in the coming weeks.

Geithner outlined myriad consequences should Congress decide, for some reason, not to raise the debt ceiling by early July.

"What will happen is that we'd have to stop making payments to our seniors -- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. We'd have to stop paying veterans' benefits," he told Amanpour. "We'd have to stop paying all the other payments on all the other things the government does. And then we would risk default on our debt -- and if we did that, we'd tip the U.S. economy and the world economy back into recession -- depression."

Watch Geithner's appearance on "This Week" below (via ABC News):

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