News / USA

US Fiscal Deal Leaves Major Budget Challenges Unaddressed

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.
Michael Bowman
— The bipartisan agreement to reopen the U.S. government and avoid a debt default removes the immediate threat of financial calamity, but leaves America’s long-term fiscal challenges unaddressed. Lawmakers of both parties are acknowledging that major battles on spending, taxation, and government reforms lie ahead.

First the good news: the United States appears to have dodged a bullet to the nation’s economic heart. But the reprieve will be temporary.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner noted Wednesday’s accord restarts federal funding and extends the nation’s credit limit for just a few months.

“We have got 90 days before the government runs out of money again. We have 113 days until the debt ceiling might have to be raised again," said Warner.

Until then, a group from both houses of Congress will meet to hammer out a bipartisan budget agreement and attempt to address America’s long-term fiscal imbalances.

Even as lawmakers of both parties hailed Wednesday’s accord, they were quick to stake out partisan priorities going forward. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell pledged to fight to preserve automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

“Washington actually can cut spending. For the first time since the Korean War, government spending has declined for two years in a row. And we are not going back on this agreement," said McConnell.

Wednesday’s agreement locks in current austerity funding levels until January, when even deeper automatic cuts will take effect. Democrats want to replace the cuts - known as sequestration - with other cost-saving and revenue-enhancing measures. Once again, Senator Warner:

“Sequestration was set up to be so stupid that no rational group of people would ever let it happen. I understand that we have to cut back on spending. But there are smarter ways to do it," he said.

Democrats are likely to press for higher spending levels on education, the nation’s infrastructure, and other domestic priorities. Some Republicans want to spare the military from further budget cuts, but are likely to insist on deeper cuts to other areas of the budget to keep overall spending at sequester levels. Many Democrats want new additional tax revenue - something almost all Republicans oppose.
 
Compromise will be key to a larger budget agreement, according to Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.

“If there is to be a deal, make no mistake, it is going to have to be a bipartisan deal. Divided government means we have to listen to each other, we have to negotiate, we have to find common ground," said Kaine.

But bipartisanship has been a rare commodity on Capitol Hill, a fact underlined by the fiscal impasse that closed the government and sent America to the edge of default. But the resolution of that impasse offers hope going forward, according to Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who urged her colleagues to unite for the common good.

“Let us take on the big challenges facing this nation: the $17 trillion in debt. Let us get a budget for the nation. Let us move forward from here, learn our lessons, work together, and get it done for the American people," said Ayotte.

The question now is: will lawmakers fall back into old partisan habits, or will a new spirit of bipartisanship propel Congress to far-reaching agreements that secure America’s fiscal future?

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid