News / USA

Obama Heads to Congress for Budget Talks

President Obama's motorcade travels down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2013.
President Obama's motorcade travels down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama visits Congress three straight days this week for talks with lawmakers — an unusual foray aimed at resolving the country's contentious debate over government spending, taxes and the national debt.
 
Obama, throughout his first four-year term, only rarely engaged in direct policy discussions with rank-and-file lawmakers, preferring instead to talk with congressional leaders or make his case with voters in campaign-style appearances throughout the country.
 
But last week he met with 12 Senate Republicans over an elaborate dinner at a Washington hotel, and lunched at the White House with a key Republican House political adversary, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Some pundits have described it as a charm offensive as the president seeks to revitalize failed past efforts to reach a "grand bargain" on government finances.
 
On Tuesday, the president — a Democrat — is meeting with the majority Senate Democratic caucus, and following that up with talks Wednesday with House Republicans, and on Thursday with House Democrats and Senate Republicans.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president hopes a bipartisan agreement can be reached on reducing spending.
 
"Our focus now is on working with Congress in regular order on the budget process and through that process, hopefully produce a bipartisan-partisan agreement on deficit reduction," he said.
 
Reaching any agreement in Washington on government spending and funding has proved difficult, with the White House and Congress lurching from one deadline to the next.
 
The two major U.S. political parties have widely different views of the government's role, how it should be financed and to what extent.
 
Democrats have generally sought to maintain spending for costly health-care programs for the poor and older Americans, as well as government pensions for seniors, while Republicans have often sought to curtail funding for them. Obama has called for higher taxes on wealthier taxpayers, while Republicans have been adamant in their opposition.
 
At the end of last year, Obama and his political opponents reached a last-minute deal to raise taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers while keeping rates the same for most Americans.
 
But two weeks ago, the White House and Republicans failed to avert $85 billion in mandated spending cuts despite warnings from economists that the budget trims would curtail the country's sluggish economic advance. As a result, some government programs are now being curtailed, including an end — for now — of popular visitor tours at the White House.
 
The U.S., over decades, has accumulated more than $16 trillion in debt, with the amount continuing to grow yearly with recent annual trillion-dollar budget deficits.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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