Obama to Congress: Don't Skip Out on the Check

VIDEO: President Obama News Conference

Fielding reporters' questions for nearly an hour today, President Obama repeatedly warned how failing to raise the nation's debt limit would negatively impact the economy, saying it would be "disastrous," "irresponsible," and "absurd."

"Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills. And we are not a deadbeat nation," he said in his first news conference of the year.

Lawmakers have until the end of February to raise the nation's $16.4 trillion debt limit. Failure to do so would set the stage for a U.S. default on its loan obligations and or force immediate cuts to government spending.

Republicans have said they plan to use the debate on a debt-limit increase to extract spending cuts from the White House.

Obama, who has vowed not to negotiate on increasing the debt ceiling, likened failure to raise the limit to skipping out on your tab at the end of a meal. "This is not a complicated concept. You don't go out to dinner and then, you know, eat all you want and then leave without paying the check. And if you do, you're breaking the law," he said.

"If Congress wants to have a debate about maybe we shouldn't go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant-that's fine. That's a debate that we should have. But you don't - you don't say, in order for me to control my appetites, I'm going to not pay the people who are provided me services, people who already lent me the money," he continued.

"That's not showing any discipline. All that's doing is not meeting your obligations. You can't do that," he said.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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