News / USA

'Fiscal Cliff' Deal Highlights Messy US Democracy in Action

Fiscal Cliff Deal Highlights Messy US Democracy in Actioni
X
January 04, 2013 3:12 AM
The partisan polarization and political dysfunction on display during the recent “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations has left many people pessimistic about the U.S. democratic system’s ability to function. VOA’s Brian Padden has more on what seems to be a perpetual state of gridlock in Washington.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Highlights Messy US Democracy in Action

Brian Padden
The partisan polarization and political dysfunction on display during the recent “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations have left many people pessimistic about the U.S. democratic system’s ability to function and by what seems to be a perpetual state of gridlock in Washington.

Many visitors to the U.S. Capitol, like David Stark from the state of nearby Maryland, come to admire this monument to democracy but express frustration with the political polarization inside its halls.
 
“You know, I wish there was more of a centrist faction that people were willing to kind of buck their party leaders and be together,” said Stark.

While Congress and President Barack Obama were able to reach a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” deadline - which would have imposed drastic spending cuts and steep tax increases - the process highlighted politicians' inability to work together.   

Negotiations broke down between Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate also failed to agree.

Congressional scholar Thomas Mann, with The Brookings Institution, said the gridlock is partly a structural problem caused by divisive party politics that often blocks cooperation between the branches of government.

“Our political parties, which were never anticipated by the framers and built into the constitution, have evolved in a way that they don’t fit well with our governing system,” said Mann.

In the end, it was the personal relationship between Vice President Joe Biden, a former senator, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that overcame the deep divide. And the bill that passed during a special session of Congress on New Year’s Day only postponed dealing with the growing federal deficit. Still, Mann said it was a significant bipartisan achievement.

“In the end they managed to avoid the cliff, reach an agreement that had broad support in the Senate, and the speaker allowed a bill to go to the floor that a majority of Republicans opposed. So that was a good thing,” said Mann.

Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University, is concerned that future budget battles will overwhelmingly dominate the new legislative session.

“While we are worried about whether we increase taxes on millionaires from 35 percent to 39 percent, a few points here and there, all of the huge problems that are facing this country are being entirely neglected,” said Lichtman.

Lichtman said that as Congress draws out the budget debate, it is less likely to deal with more important issues like disaster relief and reducing the effects of climate change.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid