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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs