News / USA

    US Congress Shows No Urgency on 'Fiscal Cliff'

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.
    Michael Bowman
    Four days before Americans face massive automatic tax increases and deep federal spending cuts, Washington is showing no signs of forging a deficit reduction agreement to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  Many lawmakers are absent from Washington altogether, and the rest are pointing fingers and casting blame.
     
    Watching official Washington, one might not know the nation is teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama returned from a Hawaiian vacation Thursday with no events on his schedule.  
     
    The House of Representatives is adjourned until Sunday.  The Senate is in session, but debating a bill governing U.S. intelligence gathering, not the fiscal cliff.
     
    That the House is closed for business at a critical time was noted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
     
    “I cannot imagine their consciences. They [House members] are out wherever they are around the country, and we are here trying to get something done," he said. 
     
    The House adjourned last week after Republican Speaker John Boehner failed to muster enough votes to pass an extension of federal tax rates for all income up to $1 million a year, far above the $250,000 cut-off sought by Democrats.
     
    A clearly frustrated Reid accused Boehner of employing heavy-handed tactics to block legislation and cast America off the fiscal cliff.
     
    “The House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives.  It is being operated with a dictatorship of the Speaker," he said. 
     
    A spokesman for Speaker Boehner said, “Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more.”
     
    In fact, both chambers are accusing the other of stymieing bills to avert the fiscal cliff.  A House-passed bill that would extend all tax cuts for all income groups has not been taken up in the Senate, while a Senate bill extending tax cuts for income up to $250,000 a year has not been considered in the House.
     
    The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, recounted a recent telephone conversation he had with President Obama.
     
    “Last night I told the president we would be happy to look at whatever he proposes.  But the truth is, we are coming up against a hard deadline here.  This is a conversation we should have had months ago," he said. 
     
    Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia is doubtful a bipartisan deal can be forged by New Year’s Eve.
     
    “It will take a miracle to keep us from going off the fiscal cliff.  The most likely scenario is that we do go off the cliff, and then Congress acts," he said. 
     
    Sabato points out that Republicans who are loathe to vote for tax hikes now will not have to do so once taxes go up on all income groups on January 1.
     
    “By then taxes will automatically have risen, dramatically, for most Americans.  Then, instead of having to vote on a tax increase, they can vote to decrease taxes, at least in some categories for some Americans," he said. 
     
    Sabato says that however the fiscal cliff drama plays out, Washington has given itself another black eye, saying, “Congress has proven to be best at finger-pointing rather than legislating.”

    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.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: KC Mac from: Boise, Idaho
    December 28, 2012 7:45 PM
    If the "Fiscal Cliff" had a provision that stated: Should no decision be made prior to the deadline, " Election shall be held for each seat in Congress". Clean house, allow the voters to re-staff Congress.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    December 28, 2012 10:59 AM
    An issue I forgot to mention, below, is that republican party, which produced great leaders like Ronald Regan (RR), its on a path of self destruction, year after year representing less and less people. RR had an inmense ability to strain the superfluous and get to the core of the issues; including reaching, seeking and working with the other side. RR put the US people, and Western interest first, political grandstanding and playing fiscal chicken of the road was not on his agenda.

    Sadly, no matter what Pres. Obama tries to do, it is always not good enough for some republicans, the last debacle, of not even accepting their own's speakers plan, just shows that these people are absolutely not willing to deal with the President. From an ousiders perspective, me, it really is starting to look like the issue relates to Pres. Obama personally; if that is the case, shame on these extremists. Some of these extremist really need to do some soul searching, and start addressing their mores and uphold democratic values!

    by: NVO from: USA
    December 28, 2012 12:19 AM
    How many of you people are STILL in DENIAL that this was all pre-planned by The New World Order, and is just another way of making people submissive to the Regime. Wake up, you fools!!!

    by: Whatever from: North Pole
    December 27, 2012 7:13 PM
    This is Obama's ship.. no one else is responsible.

    He wants us to go over the cliff so he can fund his "pet" projects (with our hard-earned money) without having to cut anything - and the best part is that he can (try to) blame it on allllllll on the bad 'ol Republicans.

    Again, this is Obama's ship. NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE.

    by: Dan the plumber from: Ct
    December 27, 2012 6:21 PM
    All I hear is arguing and no suggestions.no one cares about the little guy and girl.you have days left.you have pulled this for years and still you havent done your jobs.i agree that too much money is being spent.payroll is especially high.my first thought don't want to do your job. Ok. As taxpayers we could save money on your salary. And let's talk medical,you are out of a job, no lifetime medical benefits.

    by: lbella from: texas
    December 27, 2012 5:48 PM
    Having a huge debt is not all the fault of Goverment. We did have to defend US when the towers were taken out (LARGE DEBT) then a lot of natural disasters happened. We did not need to give first time home buyers $8,000.00 and my son was one of those that received this. We did not have to give rebates on cars or appliances. Question... where exactly does the lotto money go? I know it is suppose to be going to schools but they are broke? I say cut DOWN way DOWN on walfare.

    by: lbella from: texas
    December 27, 2012 5:24 PM
    I think military pay cuts should not even be on the books. If anyone needs a pay cut or no retirement it should be theses guys. They get retirement and medical with a few years in office while everyone else needs to put in at least 20 years. What's up with that?? I vote flat tax everyone pays the same. Rich, poor, legal or illegal.....

    by: Tom from: Alabama
    December 27, 2012 4:58 PM
    Best way I know to lower spending now is to not give them anymore money until they draw up a budget plan showing they have cut back spending.
    This should have been done years ago and before they started talking about falling off cliffs and raising taxes.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    December 27, 2012 2:48 PM
    The Western economies, not just the USA, have very serious systemic problems, that are slowly erroding the basis of Western strength, way of life, and the democratic fundations of Western Nations. We are already witnessing the rise of extreme groups in the most economically impared countries. The last thing we all need is a bunch of self serving, extremly rich buffons, making things worse for the average income person, the 54% and for the very poor~36% . Like it or not, we are all impacted by the decisions made, or in this case not made, in Washington the USA. We, can't vote in the USA, but we all have a stake in making sure the USA runs as smoothly as possible. Selfish, ignorant, greedy people, the majority of the so called 1%, and those elected officials that represent them, are gradually destroying the USA, its high standard of life, and are damaging not just the USA, but the entire Western block of nations; which also has many such bad selfish people.

    Their greed deliberately sent high paying jobs out of the US, and out of most Western countries, the point of which was to exploit cheap labour, lax labour/environmental laws, and degrade the environment of those nations. Enviromental migration victims are already on their way. At the end of the day, these greedy individuals will destroy the way of life for all = no money/no customers to buy their products.... Failure to reach fiscal agreement in the USA is already affecting non-US economies and driving extremism. So wake up and start doing your jobs, represent the majority, for which the US people elected you to do! And yes you already have far more money than 90% of the people will ever make in their lifetimes! You are creating the conditions, great insecurity, that saw the Czar's demise.

    by: yaa from: tx
    December 27, 2012 8:57 AM
    A deal is available right now that can pass the House but the speaker will not put a bill up that can pass with both democrats and republicans- A bi-partisan bill. He wants only a republican bill that will not pass the senate or the president.
    In Response

    by: Rhondakelly07 from: Usa
    December 27, 2012 11:05 AM
    the.speaker.said.its.now.up.to.odama..I.relly.hate.it.when.the.left..doesnt.know.who.the.presedent.is.and.they.will.say.its.the.GOP.fault..WHO.IS.THE.PRESEDENT..its.not.the.house.speaker..its.odama....if.your.middle.class..your.gonna.pay.6000.more.and.lots.more.for.odama.care.your.mesiah..said.no.higher.tazes..well.he.LIED.AGAIN..odamas.the.presedent...ITS.HIS.FAULT!
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    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.