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Conservatives See Victory in Budget Cuts

In Washington, U.S. political leaders have resigned themselves to the reality of $85 billion in mandatory budget cuts that will begin to go into effect in the coming days. Many conservative members of Congress see the implementation of the spending cuts as a major victory in the ongoing war over the federal budget.

Earlier this week, Obama was back in campaign mode at a shipyard in Virginia, warning about the dangers of the mandatory budget cuts.

"So these cuts are wrong. They are not smart. They are not fair. They are a self-inflicted wound that does not have to happen,” he said.

While the president is determined to find a way to avoid the cuts, Republicans like Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee are just as committed to seeing them through.

“OK, the brakes have got to be put on, and we are committed to this, and we realize the severity of it, and it is kind of one of those forks in the road, if you will, where you say you can’t kick the can any more," she stated. "Give me the can. It is spending cuts. It’s got to happen.”

Blackburn is typical of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which with the backing of Tea Party elements, is bent on reducing the size of the federal government.

“It is encouraging for me to see so many of my colleagues, and also the American people, come to the realization that the federal government is too big, it is too unwieldy, it has too much control over our lives,” Blackburn added.

Congressional Democrats say the Republicans' single-minded approach on budget cuts is an obstacle to compromise and will hurt the economy.

Among those taking issue is House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“They are just making noise. They are just saying something that might sound good for domestic consumption back home. But they did not come here to legislate. They are not here to get something done because their caucus is dominated by anti-government idealogues,” Pelosi said.

Polls show the public will blame Republicans if the budget cuts turn out to be severe. But many Republicans are more worried about the reaction from conservatives if they back away from budget cuts, says analyst Norm Ornstein.

“If you are sitting there in the House you may be mildly fearful that there could be a huge backlash. But the bigger risk for most of those members is the backlash from their own right wing and not from a broader public uneasiness with the direction they are going,” Ornstein noted.

But others believe there is plenty of blame to go around for both sides, including Republican analyst Scot Faulkner.

“Because everybody is so mired in their own biases. They are not willing to look up from those biases and really govern," he said. "They are in permanent campaign mode, and that means they can’t govern.”

Both sides now await reaction from the public as the budget cuts slowly take effect.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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