KENNEWICK, Wash. -- In his final press conference of the term, President Barack Obama demanded lawmakers raise the nation's $16.4 trillion federal debt limit quickly, so the country doesn't default on it's loans.
"The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation," said the President.
However, Republican lawmakers are asking for cuts in exchange. There is even talk of a government shut down if cuts are not worked out.
The President warned such action could send us back into a recession. "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well being of the American people is not leverage to be used," warned Obama.
Across the board cuts go into effect March 1st, and funding for many Federal programs runs out by March 21st if lawmakers don't agree to raise the debt ceiling.
In the conference, President Obama reiterated that raising the debt ceiling is not an authorization for more spending, its simply to ensure we pay our bills, money that's already been spent. But lawmakers are skeptical, including 4th District Congressman Doc Hastings.
" We're going to have spending cuts in the Federal government. There's no question about it. We can't continue where we're going with trillion dollar deficits," said Hastings.
Hastings said the House has come up with a list of cuts that totaled more than $200 billion dollars last May.
However, he said that the Senate failed to act.
"The House has voted on legislation to deal with the Sequester. The house has voted on legislation last summer to deal with the tax issue. The Senate obviously didn't do anything until the very last minute. That's the frustrating part that we have," said Hastings.
One thing Hastings doesn't think should be cut is military spending.
"I think that we have to reduce spending but we have to prioritize and we have to maintain a strong national defense, especially in the volatile world we're in now," he said.
But he said he did vote to cut a variety of programs including the Food Stamp Program.
"The Food Stamp program for example had grown by 300% in ten years. We think there should be some restrictions on food stamps," he gave as an example of a cut he'd like to see.
President Obama said he is willing to talk about cuts, but only if they are done independently from a vote to raise the debt ceiling, and not as a bargaining tool.