News / USA

White House: Budget Cuts 'Deeply Destructive'

Cindy Saine
— A White House report released Friday details how some $120 billion in cuts to defense and domestic programs next year will be applied starting January 2, 2013, unless Congress takes action to avert the automatic cuts it approved last year. The risky situation many analysts are referring to as the "fiscal cliff."

Senior Obama administration officials told reporters Friday that the report, mandated by Congress, leaves no question that the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.

The report outlines that there would be a 9.4 percent cut to most defense programs, except those exempted such as pay for military personnel and veterans' benefits and medical care.  There would be an 8.2 percent cut to domestic discretionary programs, including scientific research, food inspection, Education Department programs and border security.  Social Security benefits for retired Americans and Medicare health care benefits for older Americans are exempt.

Bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate voted for the threat of sequestration in August of last year, as a mechanism to force Congress to act on further deficit reduction.  Now, lawmakers from both major political parties are deeply unhappy about the prospect of the cuts, and are blaming the other party.

"Sequestration, as these cuts are known, threaten our national security, an estimated 200,000 jobs in Virginia will be lost, jobs that our support our war fighters and their mission around the world," said Republican Representative Robert Wittman of Virginia.
.
Democrats blamed the Republican majority in the House for announcing that the chamber plans to adjourn at the end of next week and to not return until after the November elections.

"Before we adjourn there will be no resolution on the budget, there will be no resolution on the sequester, $1.2 trillion that is causing disruption throughout the country and particularly among the entire federal government, especially the defense industry, which will have to absorb half of that sequester.  It could affect directly about a million jobs, almost 2 million jobs indirectly, but we are not going to do anything about it," said Democratic Representative James Moran of Virginia.

Congress has been consumed by battles over government spending and tax cuts for the past two years.  Democrats insist that tax increases for top earners must be part of any package to reduce the national deficit.  Republicans refuse to include any tax increases, and want deeper cuts to domestic programs such as food stamps for the poor.

Economists are warning that even the threat of spending cuts and tax increases is hurting the U.S. economy.  

"This uncertainty about the fiscal cliff coming early next year has reduced risk-taking.  Businesses, they don’t want to get out on a limb, over-hiring, buying too much capital, because they don’t know if all of a sudden, at one point in time, that we are going to have an increase in taxes, a decrease in spending, and we would literally go off a cliff," said Bob Costello, the chief economist of the American Trucking Association.  
 
The spending cuts would include cuts of $129 million per year over nine years that were to be allocated for the security, construction, and maintenance of American embassies around the world. In the wake of this week's attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya, Egypt and other countries, lawmakers are likely to strongly reject any cuts to embassy security.

Obama administration officials say the sequester is a blunt instrument that was never intended to go into effect, and they hope the almost 400-page report will motivate lawmakers to bridge their differences to avert devastating cuts.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid