News / USA

Intra-Partisan Divisions Snarl US Debt Negotiations

President Barack Obama sits with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (L), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as he met with Republican and Democratic leaders regarding the debt ceiling, at the White House in Washington, DC, July 14, 2011
President Barack Obama sits with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio (L), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as he met with Republican and Democratic leaders regarding the debt ceiling, at the White House in Washington, DC, July 14, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman

Amid the specter of a possible default on U.S. debt obligations - and dire warnings from economists, investors, and credit ratings agencies - Washington remains mired in a political standoff, blocking a deficit-reduction deal that would pave the way to raising the federal debt ceiling.

Not only are talks between the White House and congressional leaders stymied, but discordant factions have emerged within the two main political parties, further complicating a debt agreement.

As President Barack Obama prepared for another round of negotiations with top lawmakers, Press Secretary Jay Carney downplayed the likelihood of a sudden breakthrough that would avert a possible default on America’s $14.3-trillion national debt.

“The president is ready to make that deal," said Carney. "And he is waiting for partners.”

Republicans sound even more pessimistic. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to object to Democratic insistence that increased tax revenue be part of a budget deal.

“Republicans will not be reduced to being the tax collectors for the Obama economy," said McConnell. "We will not be seduced into calling a bad deal a good deal. If he and the Democratic Senate would rather borrow and spend us into oblivion, they can certainly do that. But do not expect any more cover from Republicans. None.”

McConnell has said that if no bipartisan agreement is forthcoming, Republicans should essentially wash their hands of the debt ceiling issue by granting the president the ability to raise the borrowing limit in installments, without Republican legislative consent. That would put the full burden of what is a politically-unpopular move on Democrats ahead of next year’s national elections.

But Republican Party unity appears to have faltered. House Speaker John Boehner has said he aims for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, while his chief deputy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, appears focused on a smaller deal consisting of budget cuts already agreed to in negotiations to date. The two men downplayed any disagreements at a news conference Thursday, with Boehner going so far as to embrace Cantor in front of cameras.

Meanwhile, few Republicans are embracing the McConnell proposal, and many appear unwilling to allow the chance of a major budget deal to slip by. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is an ardent opponent of tax hikes. But Thursday, he criticized hardened partisan bargaining positions and seemed to yearn for compromise.

“I am very disappointed, candidly, that both sides of the aisle only want it their way," said Corker. "I do not think this great country was created so that one side of the aisle got it exactly the way they wanted it.”

Compromise is anathema to the virulently anti-tax Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said holding a firm line against raising taxes is not a matter of ideological purity, but economic common sense.

“Too often in politics, compromise leads to things that makes things worse, not better. And if you raise taxes in this economy, with 9 percent unemployment, you are going to make things worse.”

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers stress that any budget deal that relies on spending cuts alone will harm the middle class and the poor, while shielding the wealthy from sacrifice.

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said, “We need to put everything - underline the world ‘everything’ - on the table: spending, entitlements, and revenue.”

Friction also has emerged within the Democratic Party, with its most-progressive lawmakers objecting to Obama’s willingness to consider substantial changes to so-called entitlement programs that provide income and health care for retirees.

Despite the cacophony of voices and demands, Carney said a deal is still possible before the August 2 deadline for increasing the debt ceiling.

“That agreement is right here, within reach," said Carney. "It is on the table. Just have to reach for it and grasp it, and be willing to compromise to do it. And you know what? That requires thinking about the broad American public and not the narrow bands or the narrow constituencies within your own party.”

The president has met with congressional leaders every day this week, and further meetings in coming days are anticipated.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid