News / USA

US Debt Panel Plan Fails to Pass, But Wins Bipartisan Support

Debt Commission member, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad (l) and co-chairmen Erskine Bowles, before a meeting of the commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, 01 Dec 2010
Debt Commission member, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad (l) and co-chairmen Erskine Bowles, before a meeting of the commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, 01 Dec 2010
Cindy Saine

A report by a presidential panel commissioned to find ways to pull the United States out its massive debt has failed to win the 14 out of 18 votes required to bring it up for a vote in Congress. But Democratic and Republican members of the panel praised the sweeping plan, which recommends raising the retirement age and cuts in defense spending, saying it has raised awareness that Congress has to take action to reduce the national debt.

President Barack Obama called together a bipartisan panel of 18 current and former U.S. lawmakers and top business and labor union leaders to hammer out a plan to drastically cut the spiraling U.S. national deficit. The panel's recommendations prompted a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

Some Democrats objected to proposed cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and plans to raise the retirement age. Some Republicans said they oppose the plan because it does not do enough to cut spending and health care costs.

But despite all the misgivings, 11 members of the panel voted for the plan, including progressive Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Durbin said he had been getting a lot of phone calls asking why he voted yes, and this was his explanation.

"I believe that politicians on the left and the right, Democrats and Republicans, have to acknowledge the depths of crisis our nation faces," said Durbin. "When we borrow 40 cents out of every dollar we spend, whether it is in the Pentagon or for food stamps, that is unsustainable. And being indebted for generations to China, OPEC and other nations around the world will not allow us to build a fairer and just America."

Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho also voted for the plan, and said he believes it has already changed the national debate on the country's deficit.

"The fact that we did not hit 14 should not be, and many others have reflected this same sentiment, should not be an indication that there is not powerful support behind this plan, and the need for Congress to engage," said Crapo.

Both Democrats and Republicans on the panel said the commission's plan deserves a vote on the floor of the House and the Senate. The plan would reduce deficit spending by nearly $4 trillion by 2020.

But Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said the plan would put an unfair burden on lower income Americans and the elderly, while leaving the wealthiest virtually unscathed.

"But there is another grave threat to both our economy and our democracy, and that is the alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class," said Schalowsky. "The top one percent of Americans now own 34 percent of our nation's wealth, more than the entire 90 percent of the rest of Americans combined."

The next Congress will likely take up the national debt issue next year. But first, in its remaining weeks in December, this session of Congress still needs to fund the federal government and to deal with the controversial issue of extending Bush-era tax cuts.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
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 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 Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
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 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.

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