News / USA

    Congressional Leaders Optimistic About Fiscal Talks

    From left: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outside the White House, Nov. 16, 2012.
    From left: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outside the White House, Nov. 16, 2012.
    Republican and Democratic congressional leaders voiced optimism after White House talks Friday with  President about chances for an agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" facing the United States.  The White House called the talks constructive.  

    Emerging after just over an hour of talks with the president, House and Senate leaders assessed the meeting positively.

    The House Speaker, Republican Congressman John Boehner, said he presented a "framework" that he believes is consistent with Obama's goal of achieving a balanced deficit-reduction agreement.

    Boehner and others confirmed that the contentious issue of new revenue to pay for deficit reduction is now on the table in negotiations, but the Ohio congressman stressed the critical importance of identifying spending reductions.

    "While we're going to continue to have revenue on the table, it is going to be incumbent on my colleagues to show the American people that we are serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma," said Boehner.

    The Senate majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid, also sounded an optimistic tone, saying all at the table with Obama realize that postponing an agreement is not an option.

    "We all know something has be done. There is no more 'let's do it some other time.' We're going to do it now, we feel very comfortable with each other, and this is not something we are going to wait until the last day of December to get it done," said Reid.

    Obama opened the meeting with a call for bipartisan cooperation.
     
    "Our challenge is to make sure we are able to cooperate together, work together, [find] some common ground, make some tough compromises, build some consensus to do the  people's business.  And what the folks are looking for, and I think all of us agree on this, is action.  They want to see that we are focused on them, not focused on our politics here in Washington," said President Obama.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she feels confident about reaching an agreement, and hopes the risk of another economic downturn can be averted.

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell reiterated a call to bring down spending on entitlement programs, saying a solution requires fixing "the real problem."

    The so-called "fiscal cliff" refers to about $600 billion in combined tax increases and spending cuts taking effect January 1st if there is no agreement by Congress and the president.

    Tax rises and deep budget cuts would take place automatically, under terms of a legally binding bipartisan agreement in 2011 that put off the deadline for debt reduction until 2013.
     
    Before the talks, the White House said the president's opening position would be a proposal to generate a combined $1.6 trillion in new revenue for the government over the next decade.  
     
    With added political clout from his election victory, Obama has refused any deficit deal that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the top two percent of income earners.
     
    But he has also signaled flexibility, saying he remains open to steps that would bring further savings from huge government entitlement programs.
     
    Republicans have generally resisted raising taxes on the wealthy, but are under pressure to moderate the obstructionism they demonstrated in the president's first term.  
     
    Speaker Boehner said the framework he put forward in Friday's meeting is aimed at reforming the tax code.  But specifics of this remain unclear.

    The calendar for progress is tight, with members of Congress about to return to their home districts for the annual Thanksgiving holiday recess.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora