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President Barack Obama is scheduled to hold the final news conference of his first term today at 11:30 ET. He is expected to address the debt limit in his opening remarks and both guns and immigration are among the other topics likely to come up. You can watch it live at the top of this post (or here) and follow along for live updates and comments.

8:35 AM PT: News conference postponed to 11:40 ET. Looking forward to a stimulating debate on Twitter about the policy ramifications of this delay.

8:39 AM PT: And here's the president. "A busy and productive four years, and I expect the same for the next four years."

8:41 AM PT: "We are poised for a good year—if we make sound decisions and good investments." If politics doesn't get in the way, he says. Deficit reduction is a part of that, he says. Then talks about the plan he's been pushing for two years. "Step-by-step, we've made progress towards that goal." Mentions spending cut bills and taxes already signed. "About $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the past two years"—excluding $400 billion in savings from winding down Afghanistan/Iraq wars.

8:43 AM PT: Spending cuts alone won't get us to the $4 trillion he wants, Obama says. It must include revenue. And, he says, it turns out "the American people agree with me."

8:45 AM PT: "I want to be clear about this: the debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending Congress has already committed to. [...] American cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether they will pay the bills they have already racked up."

8:47 AM PT: Obama runs down a list of dire consequences of Republicans not raising the debt limit. "It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession, and ironically might increase our deficit." Even talking about default is "irresponsible" and "absurd." It's on House Republicans, he says, and they must act with haste: "They will not collect ransom...Americans financial well-being is not leverage...they better choose quickly."

8:51 AM PT: First question is from AP on gun violence. Obama starts answer by talking about Biden's group and pledges action.

8:53 AM PT: Chuck Todd asks Obama about whether he has a plan B if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. Obama starts out by focusing on the need to raise the debt ceiling: "There is a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills. [...] There are no magic tricks here. There are no loopholes. There are no easy outs." (He doesn't mention we've already hit debt limit and are already taking extraordinary measures.)

8:54 AM PT: Obama: "I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills. Separately, they have to raise the debt ceiling" so that we can pay these bills. "What they cannot do," he says, is order him to spend money and block him from spending it at the same time.

8:57 AM PT: Obama says he doesn't believe the founders intended for the debt ceiling to be a negotiating hostage, but he also doesn't directly answer the plan B question. (At least not so far.) Basically, he is saying what Congress needs to do in order to avoid the need for a plan B. And it's clear that he believes that anything that would fall into the category of a plan B would be far, far worse than Congress simply raising the debt limit or authorizing him to do so.

8:59 AM PT: Obama says he's happy to negotiate over fiscal policy. But what he will not do "is have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people."

9:00 AM PT: "Chuck, what I'm saying to you is there's no simpler solution [...] there's no ready-to-go solution" other than to simply raise the debt limit.

9:01 AM PT: Obama compares GOP not raising debt limit to going to a restaurant and not paying the bill. He says that's illegal. (The conflict between Congress ordering him to spend while simultaneously refusing to allow him to spend is a legal issue he'd need to resolve if it came to it.)

9:05 AM PT: Major Garrett basically accuses Obama of seeking to become the first president ever to refuse to negotiate over raising the debt limit. Uh, dude, check out what the Clinton White House was saying when Newt's GOP tried it out:

On November 9, 1995, a senior administration official told the Washington Post, “Our position is it does not matter what they put on this legislation, we are not going to accept anything but clean bills because we will not be blackmailed over default. Get it? No extortion. No blackmail. What you hear are their screams of complaint as they realize we are not, not, not budging on this."

9:10 AM PT: Another question on guns, this one from Jon Karl. 4 questions so far. Guns, debt limit, guns, debt limit.

9:14 AM PT: Another question about the debt limit. This one premised on two false notions: that Obama said he wouldn't negotiate over debt limit in 2011 (he actually said that he would) and that he wouldn't negotiate over ending Bush tax cuts for wealthy in 2012 (also not true–he ruled out extending them all, but left open possibility of extending some).

9:14 AM PT: Obama says a big difference between now and 2011 is that we've already cut $1.2 trillion in spending. (Actually, it's $1.8 trillion, if you include interest as well as the FY2011 budget, and $2.4 trillion if you include new tax revenue, but his point stands.)

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