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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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