News / USA

Analysts Now More Optimistic US Lawmakers Can Reach a Budget Agreement

President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, November 16, 2012.
President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, November 16, 2012.
Cindy Saine
U.S. lawmakers have left Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday, and when they return, they will only have five weeks left before the end of the year to resolve a number of crucial budget, tax and government spending issues known as the "fiscal cliff."

Concerns about the United States averting the so-called fiscal cliff followed President Barack Obama on his trip to Asia. At the Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok, President Obama told his Buddhist monk guide that the United States is working on a budget, and is "going to need a lot of prayer for that."

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said Congress is going to have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time when lawmakers return after the holiday break.

"We have to come to terms with this massive debt, and we certainly have to either say yea or nay to the Bush tax cuts, part or whole, to the payroll tax cut, to all kinds of things connected to sequestration," said Sabato.

Sequestration refers to the severe, across-the-board cuts in domestic and military spending that would automatically take effect January 1 unless Congress and the president forge a deficit reduction agreement. Major tax cuts put in place under President George W. Bush are also set to expire at the end of this year.

Some American tourists visiting Washington told VOA they are also concerned.

"Yeah, I am worried about it," said John Davis of Illinois on the fiscal cliff. "And as far as you ask me about Congress I think they need to get busy and do the job."

"I hope they get the right people together to come up with some new solutions," said Patty Keffer of Virginia, who was visiting the U.S. Capitol with her children. "I have young children and I want them to have a bright future and reduce the deficit."

President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have long demanded that income tax rates for the highest-earning Americans be allowed to go up as part of a deal to cut the deficit. Congressional Republicans oppose higher tax rates for anyone, and are calling for significant reforms and cuts to social programs such as Medicare and Social Security - programs that Democrats do not want to see cut.

David Hawkings, a political analyst and the editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing,  says despite the challenges, he thinks the mood among lawmakers has changed since the November elections.

"It seems at the moment as though there is genuine optimism," he said.

Hawkings said he believes Republicans know they have to yield some on the tax issue now.

"The president and congressional Democrats are on pretty solid footing when they say this election was more than anything else a referendum on the president's view of higher taxes on the wealthy, and he won," he said.

Analyst Sabato agrees there is more optimism and that Democrats have been strengthened, but he is not so sure voters want tax hikes for the wealthy.

"The public sided with Democrats," said Sabato. "Now, what they sided with them about will be debated forever."

Since neither Republicans nor Democrats wants automatic spending cuts, and neither side wants all the Bush-era tax cuts to expire, lawmakers should have an incentive to get to work reaching a deal before the next holidays in December.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More