News / USA

US Government Shutdown Looms, Budget Standoff Continues

House Speaker House John Boehner of Ohio, left, stands next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, during a break from work on the federal budget.
House Speaker House John Boehner of Ohio, left, stands next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, during a break from work on the federal budget.
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman

While negotiations to fund the U.S. government continue behind closed doors, Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at each other over a bitter partisan standoff.  Without a budget deal, most non-security federal operations will be halted after Friday, when a temporary spending measure expires.

Although budget negotiations are continuing outside the public’s view, there is no shortage of commentary by congressional leaders on where talks stand. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed Republicans for the budget impasse. He accused the party of rebuffing every Democratic attempt to reach a compromise, and continually issuing new demands to further slash federal spending.

"Republicans refuse to take ‘yes’ for an answer. Every time we agree to meet in the middle, they move where the middle is. They said ‘no’ when we met them halfway. Now they say ‘it’s our way or the highway’. We [Democrats] long ago accepted the fact that the only way to reach consensus [between] a Democratic Senate and a Republican House is to compromise. I wish I could say the same about those on the other side of the negotiating table," he said.

Moments later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell placed blame for the budget standoff squarely on Democrats. He said they failed to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, which began in October, when they controlled both houses of Congress before the Republicans took control of the House in January.

"Each year, the majority party in Congress is responsible for coming up with a budget plan that explains how they are going to pay for all the things that government does. Well, last year, the Democratic leaders in Congress decided they didn’t want to do it. They didn’t want to have to publicly defend their bloated spending and the debt that it is creating. And they still haven’t come up with an alternative to the various Republican proposals we have seen to keep the government up and running," he said.

Republicans are demanding deep cuts in non-security spending, with no tax increases, to eliminate America’s $1.5 trillion deficit over the next decade and eventually reduce a $14 trillion national debt. Democrats prefer modest reductions in social programs, deeper cuts in defense spending and tax hikes for the wealthy. Both parties acknowledge that programs that provide health care for retirees and the disadvantaged will have to be reformed, but so far only Republicans have issued a detailed plan to do so.

The immediate budget battle concerns federal spending for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends in September. But both parties see the fight as the opening salvo of a much larger budget battle to come, and appear unwilling to compromise on core convictions about the role government should play in society.

For New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, government functions should be kept to a minimum so that they do not interfere with private enterprise.

"Out-of-control spending jeopardizes our nation’s economic strength and costs us jobs. We cannot spend out way to prosperity. The reality is that government does not create the jobs. Small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs. What we can do in the Senate is to help create the right tax and regulatory conditions to allow our businesses to thrive and grow," she said.

By contrast, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats, sees government as an essential promoter of the common good.

"The richest people in this country are doing phenomenally well," he said. "The middle class is in decline; poverty is increasing. Republican answer: more tax breaks for the very, very rich, lower corporate taxes, but stick it to [punish] working families. We are at a fork in the road. Do we develop public policy, which protects all of our people, which expands the middle class? Or are we at a moment in history, which moves this country aggressively toward oligarchy, in which you have a small number of people at the top with incredible wealth and incredible power, while the middle class continues to disappear?"

For months, Congress has kept the government running through a series of temporary spending measures, each enacted days before a threatened shutdown. The current measure expires Friday. President Obama has said it is past time for a bipartisan budget deal.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid