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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid