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White House hits out at Republicans over debt crisis

A frustrated White House said Republicans on Capitol Hill were guilty of "crazy" and "juvenile" political posturing as they prepared to push through a bill designed ostensibly to end America's debt crisis, but only for six months. It would guarantee a replay of the stand-off at the end of this year.

With America days away from being unable to pay all its bills, the House of Representatives was mulling a bill drafted by the speaker, John Boehner, that would authorise raising the country's debt limit by $900bn (£550m) now while cutting spending by $917bn. It was likely to pass, but by a wafer-thin margin. While optimists predicted the bill would at least loosen the log-jam on the issue, the law itself was likely to be voted down in the Senate, where Democrats have crafted an alternative bill that would raise the debt ceiling further to ensure liquidity until 2013, beyond next year's presidential election.

The disdain for the Boehner approach was on full display in the White House even before it came to a vote. "It's just crazy," said spokesman Jay Carney, arguing that Mr Boehner needed to compromise with Democrats for the good of the country. He characterised right-wing Republicans as wanting to push the country into default and "stick it to the president". That, he said, was "really, incredibly juvenile."

Democrat Senator Mark Warner, one of the bi-partisan "Gang of Six" in the Senate who may yet be called upon to help forge a compromise before the 2 August deadline, when the money runs out, also scorned the short-termism of Boehner's approach, warning it would lead to a downgrade of US debt.