GOP Rep.: August 2 Not ‘Drop-Dead Date – Unless the President Wants it to be’

ABC News’ Rick Klein ( @rickklein ) reports:

Not everyone in Congress is worried about what happens if Washington crashes into its debt ceiling – as the Treasury Department says will happen on August 2.

While that will mean no more borrowing, the nation can pay debts as they come due out of cash flowing into the federal government, freshman Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., told us today on ABC’s “Top Line.”

“I don't think that the August 2 date is a drop-dead date -- unless the president wants it to be,” Ross said.

Ross pointed out that the Treasury Department has already moved the no-more-borrowing deadline several times. He said the Obama administration can pay what’s owed out of incoming tax revenues, and would be forced to make spending cuts to make that possible.

“We take in annually $2.6 trillion in revenues -- tax dollars. Our mandatory spending is $2.4 trillion,” he said. “We can service our debt. We can meet our needs. We may not be able to meet our wants, but that's what we have to work on as a Congress, is to eliminate those ‘wants’ that have gotten us into the situation we're in today.”

Reaching the debt ceiling would at least force the president to focus his attention on cutting spending, Ross said.

“It would least go to where the responsibility needs to be then, because the president can direct the payment of these obligations,” he said. “This is a long-term scenario here. We have to have a vision that doesn't just say, 'Well, we’ve got to make sure the markets next week agree with us.' We’ve got to look long-term here. And those cuts? Those cuts can't be over 10 years. They've got to be real. And they've got to be now.”

Ross said no deal at all would be preferable to one that pushes back big decisions on spending and deficits.

“If we do not make this point, we're going to do more harm in the long term to these markets, 'cause we're giving them an opportunity to believe something that isn't true, and that's that we've gotten our house in order. Believe me, the short-term pain of getting our house in order will lead to the long-term benefit of the world economy. No question in my mind, we need to act like we're dealing from a position of strength.”

Still, Ross said he holds out hope for a major agreement:

“No question about it. We are the flagship of the world economy. We need to act like it,” Ross said. “Look, who's going to invest in us in the long term if we can't do anything but keep raising our debt ceiling 'cause we can't meet our debts? We've got to use this opportunity to do some bold initiatives to curtail our spending, to make sure we incentivize private sector job growth, that we bring our economy back.”

“This is a watershed moment. If there's a drop-dead date, I think it's artificially imposed, but it's a great opportunity for us to do that which is necessary in order to bring our spending under control -- without a doubt.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Dennis Ross HERE .

Also on today’s “Top Line,” we checked in with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, the host of “This Week,” to talk about her exclusive headliners this Sunday: White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Christine Lagarde, the new head of the International Monetary Fund.

And we also used today’s program to launch a new “Top Line” feature: “Top Tweets.” We’re asking viewers to Tweet their best pieces of analysis or punditry (hashtag: #TopLine), and we’ll choose the best 140-character offering to highlight on our show.

We had several strong entries. But the winner was Ellen Carmichael, communications director for Herman Cain’s presidential campaign, he offered this response to today’s dismal jobs numbers: “hey, Godfather's is hiring. #justsaying #topline.”

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