News / USA

    As US Congress Reconvenes, Budget Challenges Loom

    x
    Michael Bowman
    The U.S. Congress returned to work Tuesday after a long election-season recess, and immediately resumed debate on America’s fiscal woes. The election has not erased sharp partisan differences on how best to reduce America’s trillion-dollar federal deficit, nor boost a still-fragile economic recovery.
     
    Last week, Americans re-elected President Barack Obama, widened a Democratic majority in the Senate, and trimmed a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
     
    Democratic Senator Dick Durbin hailed the election results.

    “And when it was all over - thank the Lord - it was decisive. The president won a majority of the popular vote, as well as a strong majority of electoral votes. The outcome was not in doubt when it was all over," said Durbin.
     

    What is the U.S. Fiscal Cliff?

    • An agreement intended to force politicians to compromise and make deals.
    • Without a deal by January 1, 2013, sharp spending cuts would hit military and social programs.
    • Tax hikes also would go into effect.
    • The combination would reduce economic activity, and could boost unemployment and push the nation back into recession.
    Democrats argue the American people endorsed the president’s fiscal prescription: higher taxes for the wealthy, combined with spending restraint that does not hurt the poor and vulnerable.
     
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
     
    “It is within our power to forge an agreement that will ask the richest of the rich, the most fortunate among us, to pay a little extra to reduce the deficit and secure our economic future," he said.
     
    Republicans have a different view. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued the election simply reaffirmed the current balance of power in Washington: a Democratic president who must work with a politically-divided Congress.
     
    “Look out across the heartland [of America], and you will see vast regions of the country wary of the president’s vision for the future," he said.
     
    McConnell said Republicans in Congress will continue to give voice to that wariness, especially on fiscal matters, and will champion spending cuts and government program reforms as the best way forward.
     
    “Half the Congress opposes tax hikes. Not because we are selfish, not because we are stubborn, but [because] we know it is the wrong thing to do. We know it will hurt the economy, and we know it will destroy jobs," said McConnell.
     
    Unless the U.S. Congress acts by year’s end, federal taxes will rise for all income groups, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect.  Economists say the combination of tax hikes and budget cuts - commonly known as the fiscal cliff - could send the U.S. economy back into recession.
     
    But the automatic raising of taxes far in excess of what Democrats seek has led some of the party’s most-liberal members to suggest that plunging off the fiscal cliff would be preferable to a compromise deal with Republicans - if, indeed, one can be forged at all.
     
    That thinking is rejected by the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
     
    “I want you to be disabused of any notion that there is any widespread thought that it would be a good thing for our country to go over the cliff. We want an agreement," said Pelosi.
     
    In the week since the election, President Obama and congressional leaders of both parties have urged bipartisanship and pledged to work with political opponents for the common good.  That will be put to the test later this week, when they meet with President Obama for the first post-election round of fiscal negotiations.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora