News / USA

    Experts Skeptical Congress Will Be Able to Resolve Budget Differences

    The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the Capitol Dome in Washington October 15, 2013.
    The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the Capitol Dome in Washington October 15, 2013.
    Cindy Saine
    The U.S. government is open for business again after budget bickering in Congress closed many government operations for 16 days.  But the budget deal is just temporary.  Congress has set up a group to quickly forge a broad, long-term budget agreement. But the two parties remain far apart on spending and savings priorities, and experts say similar efforts to work out a budget deal have failed in the past.  

    President Barack Obama says the U.S. Congress cannot govern by lurching from crisis to crisis.  Speaking Thursday, he said lawmakers must change the way they have been doing business and work out a budget deal.

    “And we shouldn't approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise - just cutting for the sake of cutting.  The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility - we need both.  We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on: creating more good jobs that pay better wages," said President Obama.

    The deal was worked out at the last minute to avert a debt default and reopen large parts of the federal government.  The agreement requires House and Senate Democrats and Republicans to appoint members to a conference committee, which is supposed to negotiate a comprehensive budget deal.  Such an agreement has eluded Congress for the past three years.  

    The group met for breakfast Thursday.  Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said just meeting and talking is a sign of progress.

    “This is how the founders envisioned the Constitution working.  And so we want to get back to that.  We haven’t had a budget conference since 2009 and so we think it’s high time that we start talking together trying to reconcile our differences," said Ryan.

    Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, a Democrat, also voiced optimism.

    “We believe there is common ground in showing the American people that as a Congress we can work and make sure that our economy is growing and that people are back to work," said Murray.

    Despite the positive start, analysts point out that Democrats and Republicans have very different positions on government's role and size.  Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report:

    “The Democrats want additional revenue [higher taxes] and additional spending.  The Republicans want to hold the line on taxes and to shrink government," said Rothenberg.

    Republicans traditionally oppose raising taxes, and support deep cuts to the social programs that Democrats defend.  Democrats traditionally want higher taxes on corporations to pay for higher investments in education and social welfare programs.  

    Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blamed Republicans for triggering the government shutdown by linking a funding bill to a measure to derail President Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

    “They may not like government, the Republicans, but they are here to govern, and to legislate, which means you have to make compromises and choose, instead of going from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis," said Pelosi.

    Opinion polls show that Republicans get more blame than Democrats for the partial government shutdown and debt standoff.  Stuart Rothenberg says that makes it less likely we will see a repeat of the bitter standoff over the health care measure, known as Obamacare.

    “Well, I think they learned a lesson about Obamacare, that they are not going to change that," he said.

    The conference committee has until December 13 to craft an agreement.  

    The bill passed by the House and Senate late Wednesday only funds the government until mid-January and extends the debt ceiling until early February, so the budget conference committee and Congress must act or risk going to the brink of economic disaster again.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora