Lew warns GOP to avoid ‘false crises’ over spending, debt limit

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Republicans to avoid "false crises" over a government shutdown and the debt limit in the coming months.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Lew continued to hammer the message President Obama has been touting this week, about renewing a focus on boosting the middle class and avoiding self-inflicted wounds on the economy.

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"We need to remember that this isn't just about cutting budgets. Obviously, we need to have our fiscal house in order," he said. "What it's about is building the foundation for a strong economy."

He added that there is a "majority in Congress" that wants to do away with indiscriminate sequester cuts, replacing them with "more sensible policies."

"Our challenge is breaking through the logjam in Congress to get that done," Lew said.


Lew also echoed the White House message when he said the president would not be willing to negotiate over the debt limit, which will need to be raised this fall to avoid a default. He said even opening talks over raising the debt limit, after the lengthy standoff in 2011 that led to the first-ever downgrade of the nation's credit rating, would bring into question whether the U.S. is able to meet its obligations.

However, he stopped short of demanding a "clean" debt limit bill, that is, legislation that raises the debt limit and nothing else.

"Congress is going to have to pass a debt limit that can reach bipartisan consensus in the Congress and that the president can sign into law," he said.

Lew also indicated that the White House would not be providing any sort of financial rescue to Detroit, which declared bankruptcy earlier this month.

The AFL-CIO called on the federal government to provide relief, and Republicans have already warned the president not to try and rescue the city with federal dollars. Lew gave no sign such an idea was in the works.

"Detroit is going to have to work with its creditors on this," he said.