News / USA

Election Politics Threatens to Derail Deficit Committee

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction hold a public hearing with Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, seated at right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 26, 2011.
Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction hold a public hearing with Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, seated at right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 26, 2011.

In Washington, the congressional "supercommittee" appears on the verge of failure as it nears a Wednesday deadline to cut the country's $15-trillion debt by at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Failure to reach agreement could trigger automatic cuts by the same amount in domestic and defense spending over 10 years, beginning in 2013, which would have far-reaching political and economic impact.

Voters flood a congressional hearing room angered by the prospect of budget cuts to programs that benefit the elderly and poor.

Lawmakers are struggling to agree on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to cut the deficit, and failure could have worldwide implications, said Democratic Senator Kent Conrad.

“The world is watching. We know that the economic future of our country and the world rests on decisions that will be made in the next few days,” said Conrad.

Art of compromise?

University student Taylor Nash said it is time for Congress to compromise. “Right now the ideological stances on both the left and right seem to hamper their ability to come together and make decisions for the country as a whole. It’s more of a party war,” said Nash.

What if the supercommittee fails?



    - $1.2 billion in cuts split equally between defense and non-defense spending are triggered.
    - Estimated at $55 billion in each type of spending per year from 2013 through 2021.
    - Social Security, Medicare, and other programs exempt from cuts.
    - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns cuts could leave U.S. military with its smallest ground force since 1940s.
    -The automatic spending reductions are known as "sequestration."

He is not alone, said Diane Lim Rogers of the centrist Concord Coalition. “Most Americans look at Congress and they say, ‘Hey, just work it out’. It is not impossible to work this out. You just have to let go of your very ideological positions that you have held onto for the past decade,” said Rogers.

But deep disagreements over raising taxes and cutting spending have hamstrung the supercommittee, said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

Basic difference of opinion

“I think people would like the supercommittee to work. The problem is the same problem we have had for many months in that there is a fundamental disagreement between Republicans and Democrats, and conservatives and liberals as to who pays the price,” said Rothenberg.

Rothenberg said compromise is difficult because lawmakers are most worried about next year’s election.

“If Republicans vote to increase some taxes and their conservative wing gets angry at that, they could have a bloodbath. And if Democrats say we will make significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare, then the liberal wing of the Democratic Party will absolutely start screaming,” said Rothenberg.

Rothenberg and other analysts say lawmakers do have one major incentive to act. A recent public opinion poll found only 9 percent of Americans approve of Congress, an all-time low.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More