News / USA

    US Deficit Super Committee Prepares to Begin Work

    As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil proposals to spur U.S. economic growth and job creation, a bipartisan committee of lawmakers tasked with slashing the federal deficit prepares to convene for the first time. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will have less than three months to craft a formula to cut the projected growth of America’s national debt by more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

    If President Obama hopes to convince Congress of the need to spend more money in the short term to invigorate a languishing U.S. economy, the so-called deficit super committee has an opposite goal - cutting expenses in the long term to put the United States on a better fiscal path.

    The committee of six Democrats and six Republicans arose from last month’s debt-ceiling agreement.

    The committee gets to work during a period of low economic growth and job creation.  Under such conditions, some Democratic committee members are questioning the wisdom of fiscal austerity.

    Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina says his constituents have more pressing concerns than the federal deficit. “These people do not want to hear me talking about [spending] cuts.  They do not want to hear anything but [creating new] jobs,” Clyburn said.

    His words are echoed by another Democratic committee member, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. “We are fixed on the theme of our nation’s deficit and debt, and we should be.  But I might remind my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, it is virtually impossible to balance the budget of the United States with 14 million people out of work.  You need to put Americans back to work, earning a good paycheck, paying their taxes,” Durban said.

    Republicans counter that reining in a spendthrift federal government is necessary for a sound economy, and failing to do so will choke off a fragile economic recovery and lead to fiscal ruin.

    Although not a member of the deficit committee, Senator Jeff Sessions is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

    “At some point, this country gets to a position where you cannot continue to borrow without damaging the economy.  It is just that simple.  Americans understand it.  As one man told me, ‘You cannot borrow your way out of debt,” Sessions said.

    The deficit committee’s recommendations are to be presented by late-November.  They will come to a vote by late-December.  Failure to identify at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings will trigger automatic spending cuts over a broad range of federal agencies.

    It is hoped that the threat of such cuts will force members of the bipartisan committee to compromise and hammer out a deficit reduction package.

    Economist Alice Rivlin, who served on a debt commission advising President Obama, says there is a more pressing reason to act.

    “The real scary thing is what happens if we do not fix this [debt] problem.  I think the committee has got to be telling itself every morning at nine o'clock, 'If we do not solve this problem, we could have a financial meltdown.  The markets will turn against us; the economy could be wrecked for generations,'” Rivlin said.

    After a long, bruising, partisan budget battle earlier this year, public opinion surveys show Americans more skeptical than ever about Washington’s ability to fix urgent national problems.

    Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office chief, says if the debt committee fails to agree on budget savings, it would reinforce the public’s negative perception.

    “The debt ceiling fight was a turning point in the American electorate’s feelings about Washington.  And the pressure will be on this committee from a political point of view to prove that Washington still has some value to this country, and that the legislative process still works to some extent,” Holtz-Eakin said.

    Committee members are bracing for an expected onslaught of lobbyists representing unions, business groups, and a host of special interests determined to preserve existing government programs and tax policies.

    Even if the committee identifies more than $1 trillion in savings, and even if those cuts become law, budget experts say the national debt will continue to grow.  Some say even stronger austerity measures will be needed in years to come.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 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.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.