Buffett says U.S. to approach point of idiocy, not cross it

Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said he expects Congress to resolve a stalemate over the U.S. debt ceiling before it seriously harms the country.

“We will go right up to the point of extreme idiocy, but we won’t cross it,” he said today in an interview on CNBC.

Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked on spending legislation, leading to a partial government shutdown and the furlough of about 800,000 federal employees. They’re also debating whether to raise the government’s borrowing authority. Failing to do so by Oct. 17 could trigger a default, President Barack Obama’s administration has said.

“If it goes one second beyond the debt limit, that will not do us in,” Buffett said. “If it goes a year beyond, I mean, that would be unbelievable.”

Republicans in the U.S. House stalled government-funding measures in an effort to delay or curtail the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health-insurance law. Buffett today faulted the approach by some Republicans to budget negotiations.

“When the United States government issues bonds, it says the full faith and credit of the United States,” Buffett said. “It didn’t say the full faith and credit of the United States unless one political party is unhappy about some extraneous issue.”

Buffett, 83, has supported the president’s health legislation. In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu last year, he said it’s a “step in the right direction” on the top challenges facing the U.S. and its businesses.

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