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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
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 Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
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 Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson 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