(Reuters) – Republican House Speaker John Boehner vowed on Sunday not to raise the U.S. debt ceiling without a “serious conversation” about what is driving the debt, while Democrats said it was irresponsible and reckless to raise the possibility of a U.S. default.

“The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation,” Boehner told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that there were not enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass a “clean” debt limit bill, without any conditions attached.

Asked if that meant the United States was headed towards a default if President Barack Obama does not negotiate, Boehner said: “That’s the path we’re on.”

Boehner’s comments appeared to mark an escalation since earlier in the week when he was reported to have told Republicans privately that he would bring a vote to the floor on a clean debt limit bill if necessary to avoid a default.

Republicans and Democrats also traded blame for a shutdown that has brought much of the government to a standstill for nearly a week. With no end in sight, the battle over funding the government looks like it will merge with the one over the debt ceiling, which must be raised by October 17 to avoid default.

Republicans are seeking concessions in exchange for raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit. If the borrowing cap is not increased, the United States could go into default, with what officials and economists say would be seriously damaging consequences for the U.S. and global economies.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned of serious consequences “if we were to have the unthinkable happen, to have the United States default.”

“It is irresponsible and it is reckless to take that chance, which is why Congress needs to act,” he told Fox News. see more

source: reuters