News / USA

Obama Signs Compromise Debt Ceiling Bill

President Barack Obama, Aug 2, 2011
President Barack Obama, Aug 2, 2011

Multimedia

Kent Klein

President Barack Obama has signed legislation Tuesday to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, averting a potential government default only hours before the deadline.  The president called the bill an important first step toward fiscal responsibility.

The president's signature on the legislation defuses what might have been a far-reaching crisis for the U.S. economy.

Minutes after the Senate passed the bill by a of vote of 74 to 26, Obama told reporters at the White House that the process of reducing the government's deficit has begun.  

"This compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction," said Obama.  "It is an important first step to insuring that, as a nation, we live within our means."

Watch a related report by Laurel Bowman:

The new law immediately allowed the Treasury to borrow an additional $400 billion, with more borrowing allowed later.  It is also intended to reduce the nation's $14.3 trillion deficit by at least $2.1 trillion over 10 years.  The House of Representatives passed the bill on Monday by a vote of 269 to 161, after weeks of intense debate.

Under the bill, a bipartisan committee in Congress will work to find further savings in federal budgets.

The president said the agreement requires that both major political parties work together on a larger plan to cut the federal budget deficit, which he said is important for the long-term health of the U.S. economy.

Obama said that plan would need to include cuts to social programs, a move that many Democrats oppose, and higher taxes, which many Republicans reject.  Neither option was included in the compromise legislation.

"Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare, so they are there for future generations," Obama added.  "It also means reforming our tax code, so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share."

In addition, lawmakers will also consider a constitutional amendment requiring the government to balance its budget.

Republican Senator John Barrasso said such an amendment would prevent another debt crisis.

"The question is, 'Are we going to be living by the same rules that apply to every family, every small business and 49 states, which is, that they cannot spend more money than they have?'" asked Barrasso.

Obama angrily denounced lawmakers for allowing the debt debate to linger until hours before the default deadline.  He said a "manufactured crisis" in Washington has hurt the struggling U.S. economy.

"That was in our hands," Obama said.  "It is pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling, for both businesses and consumers, has been unsettling and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need.  And it was something that we could have avoided entirely."

The president said it should not take the risk of "economic catastrophe" to force lawmakers to work together and do their jobs.  He said the priority now is for Democrats and Republicans to focus on creating jobs and reviving the U.S. economy.

The top House Democrat, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, agreed that lawmakers must immediately turn their attention to economic recovery.

"Yesterday we crossed a bridge," said Pelosi.  "Enough talk about the debt.  We have to talk about jobs."

Obama called on Congress to pass numerous bills that he said would strengthen the economy, including approving free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs