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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs