ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke addressed the debt ceiling at the University of Michigan Monday and took questions from the audience.

Bernanke says it’s very important that Congress raise the debt ceiling so the government can pay its bills.

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While he acknowledged Washington has many fiscal problems that need to be resolved:

“There are a lot of important issues and very basic values involved, so let’s do that, but we don’t need to do it in the context of the debt ceiling,” Bernanke said.

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“Not raising the debt ceiling is sort of like a family which is trying to improve its credit rating saying, ‘oh, I know how we can save money, we won’t pay our credit card bills,” he said. “Not the most effective way to improve the credit rating and it was the very slow solution to the debt ceiling in August 2011, that got the U.S. downgraded last time.”

Bernanke took questions from the audience and Twitter and said that he wants to see the economy improve and is cautiously optimistic about the next couple of years.

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