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

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.