News / USA

US Conservative Groups Keep Up Pressure Amid US Budget Talks

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (2nd L) speaks to the media with other Republican House members in Washington, Oct. 10, 2013.
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (2nd L) speaks to the media with other Republican House members in Washington, Oct. 10, 2013.
Reuters
Influential U.S. conservative groups are lobbying Republican lawmakers on a bipartisan budget negotiating panel to stand firm in opposition to tax increases and any easing of automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester.”
 
Pressure from the outside groups could raise the chances of a stalemate in the panel's efforts to craft a deficit-reduction deal. The committee faces a December 13 deadline to agree on a plan designed in part to avoid a repeat of the September budget standoff that led to a 16-day government shutdown.
 
Groups such as the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America wield enormous clout with Tea Party-oriented Republicans. They were key players battling against compromise in last month's budget drama, pressuring House of Representatives Republicans to refuse to fund the government unless Democrats agreed to measures to weaken President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law known as “Obamacare.”
 
The 29-member budget negotiating committee, comprised of Republican and Democratic members from the House and Senate, was commissioned under a deal that ended the shutdown and prevented a possible default by the United States on its obligations.
 
Among other things, the panel is considering ways to relieve the effects of automatic spending cuts, known as the “sequester,” imposed on military and other government programs starting last year and continuing through 2021.
 
In the absence of any broader deficit-reduction measures, many conservatives want to preserve the sequester as the only real cut of significance they've been able to achieve.
 
“Yes, we're worried,” said Andrew Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth, which favors limited government. “We're always worried when they go behind closed doors and try and hatch something.”
 
“To us a bad deal is a deal that increases spending or taxes,” said Dean Clancy, vice president of public policy at FreedomWorks, which advocates for low taxes and spending cuts.
 
Although higher tax revenue is a key demand of Democrats on the panel, most Republicans on the budget panel have ruled it out. Among those opposed to new revenue is the lead Republican negotiator, Paul Ryan, who is chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
 
“There's always a risk that they're going to do something like this,” Roth said, referring to revenue increases but he said he didn't think such a deal would ever get approval in the Republican-led House of Representatives because most rank-and-file lawmakers staunchly oppose that.
 
Clancy said he found it “troubling” that one Republican House member on the panel, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, told Bloomberg Television last month that he might be open to raising some revenue.
 
“Mr. Cole's comments alarmed us because if he were to join with the House Democrats, they would have a majority for tax hikes.”
 
The disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over taxes is a huge stumbling block to any broader deal and could even stymie a smaller agreement.
 
One of Democrats' main goals is to ease the impact of the across-the-board spending cuts that have forced cuts in programs ranging from early childhood education to food-safety inspections to scientific research to the military.
 
Republicans have said they would be willing to reduce the size of the cuts in exchange for reductions in entitlements such as the Social Security retirement program and the Medicare health program for older Americans. Democrats say they would only support such cuts if they were accompanied by revenue increases.
 
“I think expectations for the committee are extremely low,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action, which is the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
 
Holler said that with the congressional elections coming up in November 2014, he felt confident Republicans would want to avoid having their “fingerprints” on any kind of a tax increase.
 
“Right now, it's just a bunch of conversations happening,” Holler said. He said that for now, Heritage Action is keeping in close touch with lawmakers and their staff and will decide what position to take if and when the panel arrives at a recommendation.
 
Clancy of FreedomWorks said his group was keeping in touch with Ryan and other members.
 
“The grassroots feels cheated and betrayed by Republican leaders who have run on promises to cut spending and stop Obamacare but have proved unable to keep those promises and perhaps unwilling to,” Clancy said. “So our expectations are low and pessimistic and that's why I say for us, no deal is better than a bad deal.”

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid