News / USA

Automatic US Spending Cuts Loom

Michael Bowman

Under current U.S. law, automatic cuts to domestic programs and national defense will begin in 2013, because a congressional committee failed to agree on trimming America’s federal deficit. Already, many lawmakers say they want to shield favored federal programs from the budget ax, despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

A budget deal earlier this year specified there would be $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, known as a "sequester," if a special “supercommittee” failed to trim the deficit by an equal amount over a 10-year period. The supercommittee’s failure leaves the sequester in place, at least for now.

Related report by Bernard Shusman

President Obama says austerity is on the way. “One way or another, we will be trimming the deficit," he said.

That means major cuts to a range of programs, from farm subsidies to transportation to payments to medical providers for treating the elderly. It also means deep cuts for the defense budget.

The looming sequester angers lawmakers across the ideological spectrum.  Many Democrats oppose cuts to infrastructure and other domestic programs.

And Republicans say security will suffer if the Pentagon budget is slashed. Congressman Howard McKeon said, “National defense has contributed enough to deficit reduction.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “hollowed out” U.S. military. “If the sequester goes into effect and it doubles the number of cuts, then it will truly devastate our national defense," he said.

The sequester is a blunt budget tool which leaves no room to prioritize spending.  Policy analyst Bruce Katz  said, “You can cut ‘dumb’, you can cut ‘smart’. Sequestration across the board sounds to me like a ‘cut dumb’ strategy.”

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the sequester’s painful consequences are intentional, and needed, to force Congress to act. “It was designed with a specific purpose in mind, which was to [force Congress to act]," he said.

Congress may try to pass legislation blocking the spending cuts.  President Obama says a new budget plan is welcome, but only if it reduces the deficit as much as the sequester. “Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts," he said.

The veto threat could set the stage for another budget battle next year, when President Obama, all House seats, and one-third of the Senate are up for election.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs