News / USA

Partisan Divide Continues on US Federal Budget

Congressmen walk down the steps of the House of Representatives as they work overnight on a spending bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)
Congressmen walk down the steps of the House of Representatives as they work overnight on a spending bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans appear no closer to bridging sharp disagreements on reducing America’s trillion-dollar federal deficit and slowing the nation’s ballooning national debt. For now, legislators of both parties are holding firm to partisan budget proposals for current-year federal spending, which ends in September.

Last week, Congress averted a government shutdown by enacting a stop-gap spending measure that funds federal agencies for a two-week period. The rationale was to give legislators and the Obama administration a brief window to negotiate a budget deal for the remainder of the fiscal year.

But with the clock ticking towards another potential funding expiration, signs of compromise and progress remain elusive. Republicans in the House of Representatives have already passed a funding bill that would slash current spending levels by more than $60 billion. The bill is expected to die in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)
Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation program, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts blasted the Republican budget blueprint as reckless and damaging.

"I do not believe what we have from the House is a serious economic plan," he said. "I think it is a very dangerous plan.  It cuts teachers, it cuts education, it cuts research, it cuts energy research - all the things we need to do to make America number one again and to move into the global marketplace, their [Republican] budget sets us back."

Democrats have proposed more modest budget cuts, leaving the two parties tens of billions dollars apart in proposed funding levels. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also appeared on Face the Nation.

Mitch McConnell (File Photo)
Mitch McConnell (File Photo)
"What is reckless is the $1.6-trillion deficit we are running this year," he said. "What is reckless is the $3 trillion we have added to our national debt. Our national debt is not the size of our economy. We begin to look a lot like Greece [in danger of defaulting on debt]."

Republicans say deep and painful spending cuts are needed to put America’s fiscal house in order so that the private sector can flourish without the burden of a bloated government sector.

Democrats say drastically slashing spending will throw Americans out of work, imperil a fledgling economic recovery, and rob the nation of a better-educated workforce and the technological innovation that will drive economic growth in the future.   

The debate illuminates the classic divide in American politics between conservatives, who see the government as a burden to the free market, and liberals, who see the government as a necessary promoter of progress and the common good.

Despite partisan differences, the Obama administration insists compromise is possible.  White House Chief of Staff William Daley spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press program.

"We are not that far apart," said Daley. "We [Democrats] are at over $50 billion in cuts. The House passed [a bill] that is $100 billion. So we are over half way there [to a deal]."

Republicans say the White House’s budgetary math is misleading, noting the administration's cuts come from a proposed 2011 budget that was never enacted and which would have boosted spending.

Even if current-year spending levels are agreed to and a government shutdown is averted, negotiators have yet to tackle next year’s budget, meaning the current partisan stand-off could be repeated six months from now.  

In addition, neither party has submitted proposals to reform entitlement programs that provide income and medical care for retirees. Those programs are projected to add trillions of dollars to America’s national debt in coming decades.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs