News / USA

Debt Debate Driven By Polarized US Politics

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (file photo)
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (file photo)

As U.S. political leaders struggle to find a compromise to raise the national debt limit by next Tuesday, voters and analysts alike are blaming hyper-partisan politics for the impasse. Sharp political differences have always been a feature of American democracy, but historically the country has generally found a way to compromise.

Around the country, voters are tired of the debt stalemate in Washington and are urging both sides to compromise.

“Going to the edge of a cliff may be exciting for some people, but it does not make sense for a way of running the country,” one man said. "I think it is almost like a spoiled child, ‘I have either got to have my way or it is no way!,” a woman said.

Some Americans are asking whether polarized politics has made the United States ungovernable.

Democrats control the White House and the Senate, but Republicans hold a majority in the House of Representatives.

Even President Barack Obama expressed frustration in a recent speech to the nation. “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they did not vote for a dysfunctional government,” Mr. Obama said.

But the political battle lines over raising the debt ceiling so the United States can meet its obligations remain rigid.

Many Republicans say the voters who sent them to Washington are demanding they shrink the size of government and will hold them accountable in next year’s election if they fail.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is a favorite of small government activists in the Tea Party movement and a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next year.

“Mr. President, do not raise the debt ceiling.  They are tired of Washington, D.C. not listening to them and they are tired of how out of touch the politicians are who say we have to continue the spending,” Bachman said.

Many analysts see the debt fight as the latest example of a growing U.S. political polarization, a trend that has been building for decades.

Professor David Lublin teaches government at American University in Washington. “Now the two parties are in fact more polarized, and I think that is largely being driven by our party primary process, where it is increasingly hard to get nominated for one of the two parties if you are a moderate,” Lublin said.

With fewer moderates in both major political parties, finding a sweet spot in the center to forge a compromise on divisive issues has become increasingly complicated.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told NBC News the focus on partisanship has eroded the traditional ability of Democrats and Republicans in Congress to get along with one another.    
“In earlier days legislators would socialize together on the weekends.  They would play poker, they would drink, they would share stories and created friendships that went across party lines,” Kearns said.

Former Republican senator Trent Lott told ABC’s This Week program that newly elected members of Congress seem less willing to compromise.

“I remember when I first came to the House [of Representatives], my attitude was I wanted it my way or not at all.  And over the years I found out that if you take that attitude what you get is nothing,” Lott said.

Lott served for a time as Senate Republican leader and often found a way to compromise with his Democratic counterpart, former senator Tom Daschle, who also appeared on the program.

“You have got to, at some point, put governance ahead of ideology and when that happens we get the best result of good leadership in America,” Daschle said.

Political strategist Matthew Dowd says voters are angry and will hold all parties responsible in next year’s election if Congress and the president fail to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling.

“Basically the country thinks that Washington has become a cesspool of dysfunction and there seems to be a great inability of anybody to sit down and act like adults in the room and solve the problems,” Dowd said.

Public-opinion polls show most Americans want Congress to compromise on the debt issue and focus instead on creating jobs and growing the U.S. economy.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs