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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    update President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora