Obama Scorns Debt Talks, Praises NY Gay Marriage

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama used the daytime spotlight to scold members of Congress for dragging their heels on an agreement to raise the nation's debt limit.

For the first time since March, Obama held a press conference Wednesday to talk about America's economy. But he also jumped into debate over the latest challenge to traditional marriage.

On the economic side, Obama made it clear that wealthy Americans must pay more taxes.

"That's not radical," he told reporters, adding that both Democrats and Republicans must "take on their sacred cows" as part of the deficit-reduction negotiations.

Speaking on gay rights, Obama called the vote in New York to legalize gay marriage "a good thing."

"I think what you're seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays, lesbians, and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our coworkers, and that they've got to be treated like every other American. And I think that principle will win out," Obama said.

After the president's press conference, the East Room was transformed for an event to observe LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month.

Obama maintains the Federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it allows the federal government to intervene in what he says is a state issue.

Obama chose not to answer how his personal feelings about gay marriage have evolved, but praised the process in New York that led to legalized gay marriage.

Still, Wednesday's news conference was dominated by talk of job creation, the economy, and the national debt limit.

"They (members of Congress) need to do their job," Obama charged. "Now's the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That's why they're called leaders."

The Treasury Department has set August 2 as the deadline for Congress to increase America's borrowing power.

If that doesn't happen and the U.S. can't pay its bills, Obama warned the consequences will be significant and unpredictable.

Taxes are the major sticking point in the discussions between lawmakers. Republicans say tax hikes aren't on the table. But the president insists ending tax breaks for wealthy Americans and high earning companies must be part of the package to reduce deficit spending.

"You'll still be able to ride on your corporate jet. You're just gonna have to pay a little more," Obama said.

Republicans maintain that tax hikes on wealthy Americans are tax hikes on small business owners who employ the most Americans, and raising taxes on them will only stall new job creation.

"[Obama] can't call for tax hikes and job creation. It's one or the other," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Along with tax increases, President Obama also called on Congress to renew for another year a 2 percent payroll tax cut.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.