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
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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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