News / USA

Hopes Fade for US Deficit Reduction Deal

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Nov., 19, 2011.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Nov., 19, 2011.

Last-ditch hopes for a bipartisan deal to improve U.S. government finances are waning, days before a deadline for a special congressional committee to recommend ways to achieve $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.  Although the so-called “supercommittee” technically has until Wednesday to act, a firm proposal is needed by late Monday so lawmakers and budget analysts can review the plan.

With hours remaining until Monday’s interim deadline, no one on the 12-member supercommittee says a deal is imminent. The Republican co-chairman, Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, spoke on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday.

"Nobody wants to give up hope. Reality is, to a certain extent, starting to overtake hope. It is a daunting challenge, no doubt about it," he said.

A Democratic supercommittee member, Representative Xavier Becerra of California, compared the situation to the final minutes of a sporting match.

"We are deep into the fourth quarter, but there is still time on the clock. I do not think any of us wants to let the time run out," he said.

Days ago, many lawmakers of both parties urged the supercommittee to bridge ideological gulfs and arrive at a compromise that cuts the deficit by more than the minimum $1.2 trillion specified in a budget deal signed into law earlier this year.  Recent weeks have seen some Republicans soften their opposition to new tax revenue, while many Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have long said they would be willing to restructure costly programs that provide income and health care for retirees.

But the ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes, and the specific composition of both, present a seemingly insurmountable stumbling block.

Representative Hensarling says Democrats continue to oppose meaningful spending restraint.

"We all know, and even the president will admit, that the great drivers of our debt are Medicare, Medicaid and health care. Nothing else comes close. But unfortunately what we have not seen in these talks is any Democrat willing to put a proposal on the table that actually solves the problem," he said.

Democrats counter that it is Republican insistence on preserving tax cuts for the rich that is the major sticking point. Once again, Congressman Becerra, who also appeared on Fox.

"Every plan that Democrats have put forward has included cuts to entitlement programs. But it has got to be balanced," he said. "You cannot say you are going to take benefits away from Social Security and Medicare, and not ask our wealthiest Americans [to pay more taxes] - why should they escape participation when we are asking seniors to help cover the costs of deficits?"

Failure by the supercommittee would trigger automatic spending cuts to domestic programs and national defense. In addition, a wide range of tax cuts enacted since 2001 will expire unless extended by Congress.

Economist Mark Zandi of Moodys Analytics, a financial ratings firm, says he does not foresee an immediate market panic if the supercommittee fails.

"I do not think there will be much of a reaction. It is all relative to expectations, and investor expectations with regard to the [super]committee have been and still are very, very low," he said.

But Zandi adds that a long-term failure by the United States to confront its debt problem would harm the economy and shatter investor confidence.  The U.S. federal deficit exceeds $1 trillion, contributing to a national debt of about $15 trillion.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs