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.
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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid