News / USA

Fiscal Cliff Posturing in US is Old Political Game

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returns from the Christmas recess to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 27, 2012.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returns from the Christmas recess to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 27, 2012.
x
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returns from the Christmas recess to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 27, 2012.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid returns from the Christmas recess to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 27, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
— With every day that passes the United States is edging closer to the fiscal cliff - a combination of tax hikes and federal spending cuts that could push the country back into recession. So why do some politicians appear to be moving so slowly?

From the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday, a plea for action from Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid - and a swipe at Republican Speaker John Boehner and the House of Representatives:

"They are not in Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives are not here,"  said Reid. "They couldn't even get the leadership together yesterday... John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on firm financial footing. It's obvious. Mr. President, what's going on around here?"

Ongoing gridlock

But what also is obvious to many Washington analysts is the usual politicking as lawmakers try to boost their support and their influence.

Gallup Polling Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport said no one has gotten a bigger boost than President Barack Obama.

"At the moment, President Obama's job approval rating for handling the fiscal cliff and also his overall job approval rating are fairly high. In fact, his overall job approval rating in recent days has been as high as we've seen it since the year he was first inaugurated," said Newport.

Newport said Democratic lawmakers also have seen their approval ratings increase, while Republicans ratings have held steady.

Don Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, said that in the end, the politicians want to come out of the crisis looking like they were the ones who won - only it is not as easy as it used to be.

"There would be little sweeteners that could be tossed out. A new dam for somebody's district; a new highway for somebody else's; a new research program that somebody was looking for. But the very fact that so much of this has to do with the budget and that everybody is holding the line on spending at the same time means that it's very hard to throw those extra sweeteners in," said Kettl.

Public pain

For now, some groups, like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, warn that the fiscal cliff is less and less about potential winners and increasingly about a whole lot of losers.

"It's not the politicians who are going to fall off the cliff. It's the American public. It's the small business owner and the taxpayers and the students and the teachers," said the committee's Marc Goldwein.

For most workers, the fiscal cliff means less spending money - as more taxes are taken out of their paychecks. And for many companies that provide goods or services to the federal government, it will mean less business, and in turn, job cuts.

And analysts say if that happens, it is a good bet the politicians likely will lose, too.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid