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.
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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid