News / USA

US Lawmakers Shun Partisanship on Debt Talks

Michael Bowman

U.S. lawmakers are expressing no hardened bargaining positions on debt negotiations aimed at finding an alternative to massive tax hikes and deep spending cuts that will automatically take effect January 1.

Democrats and Republicans say they will have to embrace measures that will displease base supporters of their respective parties to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” and cut America’s trillion-dollar federal deficit.

U.S. legislators are returning from a Thanksgiving holiday recess with an overriding concern: how to put America’s fiscal house in order without endangering a fragile economic recovery.  An initial round of post-election debt discussions between the White House and congressional leaders yielded no clear signs of progress. With negotiations set to resume, lawmakers took to U.S. airwaves Sunday to stress their willingness to consider politically-painful choices necessary for a bipartisan deal.

Republican Congressman Peter King spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press program. “We should not be taking ironclad positions," he said.

That view was echoed by Democratic Senator Richard Durbin on ABC’s This Week program. “Put everything on the table. We can solve this problem," he said.

Specifically, several Republican lawmakers say they are willing to set aside pledges made years ago that they would never vote for additional tax revenue and pursue deficit reduction through spending cuts alone. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on This Week said, “I will violate the [no-tax] pledge. Republicans should put revenue on the table.”

Similarly, Senator Durbin said Democrats must risk angering their party’s base supporters by embracing cost-saving reforms to programs that provide health care for retirees. “We want Medicare to be there for today’s senior and tomorrow’s, as well. We can make meaningful reforms without compromising the integrity of the program," he said.

To be sure, partisan differences remain. Republicans say the best way to boost government revenue is to limit tax deductions, rather than boosting tax rates on the wealthy, as President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers desire. While Democrats agree that costs will have to be contained for Medicare, they remain strongly opposed to Republican proposals to radically overhaul the program.

But the absence of partisan lines drawn in the sand is a departure from last year’s debt negotiations that failed to yield an accord, prompting a downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness.

Congressman King said, “The speaker [of the House], the majority leader [of the Senate], and the president are going to be in a room trying to find the best [debt reduction] package. I do not want to prejudge any of this. We cannot go off the fiscal cliff. We have to show the world we are adults. The election is over.”

For years, public opinion polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly crave compromise and bipartisanship over ideological inflexibility and gridlock in Washington. Economists say the United States risks another economic recession if no debt deal is struck and automatic tax hikes and spending cuts actually take effect next year. 

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs