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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid