Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) blasted Republicans in Congress on Thursday for using the federal debt ceiling as political leverage to demand spending cuts from Democrats.

"[Obama] is betting that the Republican Party is not completely insane," he said on MSNBC. "I hope that is a good bet. I'm not sure it is, because essentially what Republicans are doing is saying, like a 1930's gangster, 'That's a nice economy you got over there, pity if it should happen to blow up if you don't pay me off with what I want.' That's a direct threat, and the hostage is the entire economy because if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we will default, and if we default we will have a depression. I mean, a real depression."

Obama has said he will not negotiate over the federal debt ceiling, which authorizes the U.S. Treasury Department to pay the nation's creditors. Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday that the United States could have its Triple-AAA credit rating downgraded if it fails to raise the debt ceiling in a "timely manner."

Nadler and other Democrats in the House have introduced legislation that would abolish debt ceiling altogether.

"The debt ceiling is arbitrary, doesn’t affect the deficit, and serves no real function in keeping spending down – and it’s time to abolish it," the congressman said in a statement. "Only then will we be certain to pay our bills on time and take away from extremists this tool for political blackmail."

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