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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid