News / USA

US Lawmakers Often at Odds in Search for Budget Compromises

The US Capitol Dome is seen in the distance as American flags fly on the National Mall around the base of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2013.
The US Capitol Dome is seen in the distance as American flags fly on the National Mall around the base of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2013.
VOA News
With the U.S. government shutdown over, fractious lawmakers now face a difficult task in resolving significant differences over the country's spending priorities and taxation.

U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican opponents in Congress have been unable to reach agreement on an overall government budget during most of his five years in the White House. The Congress has often adopted crisis-driven measures to keep the government operating.

Key lawmakers started discussions Thursday to try to reconcile wide differences in the 2014 budgets approved by Congress' two chambers, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives. In the U.S., liberal Democrats generally support more government spending for social programs and higher taxes on the wealthy, while conservative Republicans regularly call for tax cuts and a diminished role for government.

The deal to end the 16-day partial shutdown and increase the country's borrowing authority calls for the negotiators to reach a spending agreement spending by mid-December. That would be a month ahead of a mid-January deadline when government funding runs out.

One U.S. economic analyst, Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics, said that he did not expect the negotiators to be able to reach a long-term deal.

"I wouldn't expect any big grand bargain in terms of multi-year deficit reduction to come out of this," he said.

Rather, O'Sullivan said he expected the negotiators would try to figure out ways to limit scheduled mandatory cuts that would curtail U.S. defense spending.

In a White House speech, Obama laid out his priorities.

"The key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow - like education and infrastructure and research," he said.

Obama has offered to trim spending for pensions and health care assistance for older Americans in exchange for increasing taxes on wealthy Americans. But Republicans remain opposed to another tax increase after reluctantly agreeing last year to boost taxes on families earning more than $400,000 a year.

Economist O'Sullivan said he did not think the Democratic and Republican lawmakers would agree to change the popular pension and health care programs for seniors.

"Democrats are not going to agree to any meaningful cuts in entitlement spending over time, unless Republicans agree to increase revenues. And I doubt very much that Republicans are going to agree to increase revenues any further," he said.  

The threat of another government shutdown in January looms over the budget talks if the negotiations break down. A leader of the just-ended funding debate, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has not ruled out another government closure as he continues to fight the start of Obama's health care reforms.

But the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, says the shutdown was a losing strategy to fight the Obamacare law and that it is pointless to have another closure.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid