ASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, who will turn 50 on August 4, said Thursday that for his birthday present, he would like an increase in the US debt ceiling.


Obama joked in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) that he would like "a debt ceiling deal" for his birthday.

The White House and Congress, whose lower house is under Republican control, are currently engaged in tense negotiations in order to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2, after which the US risks defaulting on its payments.

The Republicans favor a raise in the debt ceiling that is tied to budget cuts that will address a record US deficit.

Democrat Obama said he not only wants to trim costs, but also put an end to some tax breaks and close tax loopholes, which is a sore point for conservatives.

In an interview with NPR to air Friday, Obama repeated his interest in the compromise plan presented by a group of Senate Democrats and Republicans known as "The Group of Six."

"In order for us to solve the debt and deficit problems, we've got to cut spending that we don't need. We have to eliminate programs that may not be working. We've got to make some tough decisions around things like defense spending as well as domestic spending," he said.

Earlier Thursday, the White House said it saw "momentum" toward a deal to avert a disastrous early August debt default, but denied media reports that a compromise with top lawmakers may be imminent.