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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora