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Obama to discuss fiscal issues at news conference

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House in Washington November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House in Washington November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama scheduled a surprise news conference for Monday to press his case for raising the U.S. borrowing limit and to renew his call for a balanced approach in dealing with looming budget challenges.

"He'll use it to discuss a number of issues including some of the upcoming fiscal deadlines like the debt ceiling," a senior White House official said.

Obama's last full-scale news conference was on November 14, shortly after he won re-election. He took questions from the media last week after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Fresh off negotiating a resolution to the so-called fiscal cliff, new political confrontations loom between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans over budget and borrowing.

Republicans have reportedly indicated a willingness to allow a U.S. debt default or a government shutdown to force the Obama administration to accept deeper spending cuts than the White House would like.

The United States is due to bump up against its $16.4 trillion borrowing ceiling as early as mid-February. Republicans have said they will insist on spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit, but the president has declined to negotiate over the increase.

In addition to the debt ceiling, Washington faces tough deadlines around the end of next month over harsh across-the-board spending cuts that would kick in unless Congress acts and the end of a stopgap government spending bill.

The president has argued that any spending cuts continue to be "balanced" - that is, accompanied by measures to raise additional government revenue.

If Congress fails to raise the U.S. debt limit, the Treasury Department will become unable to borrow money to pay for government spending obligations, leading to a debt default that would damage U.S. credit and have wide repercussions in financial markets around the world.

Protracted haggling over raising the debt ceiling in 2011 brought the nation close to default and resulted in a credit rating downgrade and financial market turmoil that slowed economic recovery.

(Editing by Paul Simao and Mohammad Zargham)

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