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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More