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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid