News / USA

    Obama: Congress Must Face Deficit

    Kent Klein

    President Barack Obama will meet Sunday with top lawmakers, in hopes of making progress toward an agreement to prevent a government default.  Both the White House and top Republicans are playing down the prospects for a deal in Sunday’s talks.

    The ongoing negotiations between the Obama administration and Republican leaders have two goals.  One is to reduce the government’s $14.3 trillion debt, which is the current legal borrowing limit.  The other is to raise that limit before August 2, when the U.S. could default on some of its loans, which would damage its credit rating.

    President Obama met with top lawmakers from both parties on Thursday to discuss the problem.  He said the meeting was constructive, but that the parties were still far apart.  

    The president scheduled another meeting for Sunday, and said Thursday that White House and congressional staffs would work through the weekend, to enable negotiators to make progress. “I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday, with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are, and will, hopefully, be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that is necessary to get a deal done," he said.

    Some lawmakers from both parties were expressing optimism on Thursday that a deal could be concluded soon.  But on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney cautioned that an agreement should not be expected immediately. “I am not prepared to say that we will produce something Sunday.  I think I would not anticipate that, necessarily, in terms of the final product at all.  I would simply say that we do expect progress to be made, as it is being made in between these two meetings," he said.

    The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, also warned Friday against expectations of a quick deal. "There is no agreement in private or in public.  And as the president said yesterday, we are "this far apart."  It is not like there is some imminent deal about to happen," he said.

    Mr. Obama indicated early in the week that he believed conditions are right for a major deal to reduce the deficit.  Such an agreement could cut the deficit by as much as $4 trillion over at least ten years.

    To do so, the president will need to overcome opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

    The White House said a big debt reduction plan could involve savings in social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Many Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reject any reduction in the benefits Americans receive from these programs.

    Republicans, meanwhile, are strongly opposed to raising taxes or eliminating tax breaks that benefit wealthier Americans.

    The number-two House Republican, Eric Cantor, said Friday he and Speaker Boehner will not allow taxes to be increased. "Now it just does not make sense for Americans to suffer under higher taxes in an economy like this.  And as the Speaker said, there is no way that the House of Representatives will support a tax increase," he said.

    The president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, said no single plan will ultimately be approved.  The final deal will likely be a compromise including some of Mr. Obama’s proposals, those from Democrats and Republicans, and the findings of two bipartisan independent commissions.

    Adding to the urgency of the talks was Friday’s report from the Labor Department, showing that the U.S. economy’s recovery from recession continues to slow.

    The figures showed that only 18,000 jobs were created in June, and that the nation’s unemployment rate increased slightly, to 9.2 percent.

    The president said Friday a deal on the debt would reassure U.S. and global financial markets, and would give American businesses confidence to resume hiring.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    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 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.