News / USA

Washington Week: Focus on Austerity

Michael Bowman
A federal budget showdown will consume Washington’s political oxygen when U.S. lawmakers get back to work Monday after a week-long recess. 

America is bracing for across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as a sequester, that will automatically begin Friday. 

“They will slow our economy.  They will eliminate good jobs.  They will leave many families who are already stretched to the limit scrambling to figure out what to do,” President Barack Obama warned.

The president has urged Congress to pass an alternative deficit-reduction package of targeted spending cuts and revenue hikes.

“These cuts do not have to happen.  Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little compromise.  They can pass a balanced plan for deficit reduction,” he noted.

But Republicans reject additional tax revenue, arguing the root of America’s fiscal imbalance is runaway spending. 

“The sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget over the next 10 years, period!” House Speaker John Boehner announced.

As budget cuts loom, Democrats and Republicans are blaming each other.  Fear of voter anger over slashed government services has yet to spur a bipartisan substitute for the sequester.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to act on President Obama’s choice for defense secretary, former senator Chuck Hagel.  Republicans delayed a confirmation vote earlier this month, demanding more time to probe Hagel’s views on global affairs. 

“This is not about politics.  This is not about personalities.  It is about questions like whether Iran should be allowed to get a nuclear weapon,” Senator John Cornyn said.

Republicans have promised to allow a vote this week, and Hagel’s confirmation is expected in the Democratically-controlled Senate.  Votes could also be held on CIA director nominee John Brennan and treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew.

The full extent of the Obama administration's backing for same-sex marriage rights could be illuminated if the Justice Department files a brief in a landmark Supreme Court case.  Last week, the department urged the court to strike down a law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages.  This week, the department could weigh in on a case challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

“I think that same-sex couples should have the same rights and be treated like everybody else,” President Obama said a few days ago.

Gay rights advocates want the administration to argue for same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.  If the Supreme Court agreed, it could open the door to gay marriage nationwide.  The court will hear oral arguments on same-sex marriage next month, with rulings expected in June.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ebharbison from: USA
February 25, 2013 9:06 AM
When I worked (I am retired), I was never allowed to take time off when there was a job that urgently needed to be finished. But, every time there is a crisis in our Federal Government, Congress takes a week off. Please, someone remind me why we pay these clowns!

by: Marcus from: Texas
February 25, 2013 9:04 AM
If you want this garbage to stop, we need to get the money out of the process. There is a far greater monetary incentive to please the base and the people holding the purse than there is a moral incentive to do what is best for the country. We need leadership, not manufactured reality-tv-style dramas.

by: Rodney Vero
February 25, 2013 9:03 AM
All these important items to consider and they all took last week off? If I did that, I'd be out of a job. Next election: "Vote for NO incumbent!" The lot of them need to be cleared out of these cushy jobs, lose ALL their benefits, and come join us in the economy they've created/continue to perpetuate.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs