News / USA

Budget Battles Resume in US Congress

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (r) accompanied by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad speaks about the Congressional Budget Office's economic outlook during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Jan 26 2011
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (r) accompanied by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad speaks about the Congressional Budget Office's economic outlook during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Jan 26 2011
Michael Bowman

One day after President Barack Obama urged bipartisan cooperation to tackle America's ballooning national debt and budget deficit, Democratic and Republican lawmakers traded accusations Wednesday of fiscal irresponsibility and proposed radically different plans to reduce a $1.5-trillion federal deficit.  

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama called for bipartisanship, saying the nation "will move forward together, or not at all."

Less than 24 hours later, finger-pointing was alive and well among senators of both parties.

Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin:

"As the president urged Congress to invest in education, innovation and rebuilding, the Republicans continue pushing a budget plan that calls for decimation, stagnation, and complacency," he said. "The Republicans view the [federal] budget like a piñata.  They believe if you put on a blindfold and swing away, not matter what you hit is wasteful [spending].  That is a mindless view when it comes to budgeting."

Meanwhile, many Republicans accused Democrats of leading the United States on a path to fiscal suicide and economic ruin.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah:

"Last night, the president spoke about our dangerous debt and his commitment to bringing it down," said Durbin. "But actions speak louder than words.  He, unfortunately, recommitted to spending more money we don’t have on so-called ‘investments.’"

The comments reflect a decades-old ideological divide in American politics between those who view the government as indispensable for promoting and expanding economic progress, and those who see the government as a costly and wasteful burden on free enterprise.

To remedy the nation’s fiscal imbalance, Senator Hatch is reviving a proposal he made in 1997 - amending the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget, except during times of war.

Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign is a co-sponsor of the amendment, which he says is necessary to force discipline on a spendthrift Congress.

"By 2020, we will be paying over $1 trillion a year in interest on the national debt," he said. "That is unsustainable.  It is critical that we pass the balanced budget amendment.  Votes to cut spending are difficult.  It is much easier to get reelected by giving money away than by taking tough political votes to cut spending."

Amending the U.S. Constitution requires passage by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.

Few Democrats have ever embraced a balanced budget amendment.

Once again, Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin:

"I am just not one of those people who races to amend the Constitution," he said. "Taking a roller to a Rembrandt [defacing a painting masterpiece] has never been my goal."

Democrats say that if Republicans are serious about reducing the deficit, they should stop defending reduced tax rates for the wealthy and embrace targeted spending to boost economic output.

New York Senator Charles Schumer:

"You can’t say, ‘I’m for reducing the deficit, I’m for a balanced budget amendment,’ and then propose $1 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy, which increase the deficit," he said. "You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth."

Republicans counter by saying that tax hikes hamper free enterprise and that Congress always finds ways to spend new revenue, rather than setting it aside for deficit reduction.  Republicans also dismiss President Obama’s proposed five-year freeze on domestic federal spending because it would lock in higher spending levels enacted during Mr. Obama’s first two years in office.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid