News / USA

US Business Leaders Press Congress for Debt Deal

Michael Bowman
Business leaders are pressing Congress for action, and the White House summoned ordinary Americans as Washington heads toward steep automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.  Democrats and Republicans have failed for the past year to prevent this so-called fiscal cliff from going into effect January 1.  Members of the business community were on Capitol Hill to deliver a stern message: reach a deal to reduce the federal deficit now, or face ugly economic consequences next year.

“Politics has to go aside. That is what we are telling them,” . National Small Business Association Chairman Chris Holman told reporters.

Inaction on the debt will be costly, according to insurance executive Mark Bertolini.

“We are 802 hours away from having a big problem that will send the economy into recession and put people out of work. And we do not want to see that happen,” he said.

By contrast, a deficit-reduction pact would boost economic confidence.

“Investment hates uncertainty. And as soon as that is resolved, you will see the economy begin to kick [expand] again,” Holman said.

But Washington’s partisan stand-off on deficit reduction remains. Republicans warn of job losses if tax hikes on the wealthy favored by Democrats go into effect.

"The proposal the president has put forward to solve the fiscal cliff raises taxes on almost a million small businesses who employ 25 percent of the workforce," noted Senator John Thune.

Democrats argue federal spending cuts advocated by Republicans will disproportionately harm the poor and the middle class.

"I will not sign onto a deal that throws the burden of deficit reduction right onto the backs of families and communities that have already sacrificed so much," warned Senator Patty Murray.

If no deal is struck, massive tax hikes and devastating spending cuts that neither political party wants - the so-called “fiscal cliff” - will take effect in less than five weeks.

“We do not have a lot of time here,” warned President Barack Obama.

He says a typical family would have to pay more than $2000 in new taxes next year.

“That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers,” Obama said.

The president brought a group of middle-class Americans to the White House  to demand action on his proposals. But the president’s public outreach is drawing criticism from the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell.

“Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he [Obama] is back on the campaign trial, presumably with the same old talking points that we are all quite familiar with,” McConnell said.

But Americans are speaking out, including small business owner Cookie Driscoll, who says the United States is drowning in debt.

“It is a house of cards that is slowly coming down,” Driscoll said.

President Obama met with congressional leaders for initial debt consultations two weeks ago. Since then, no face-to-face meetings have been held.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid