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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.