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

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

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