News / USA

World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington

World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington
World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington

A political showdown over the U.S. Federal Budget reaches a critical point in Washington this week. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are trying to reach an agreement with Republican congressional leaders to temporarily keep the government running past Friday, when the current funding bill expires. The budget battle is expected to dominate the domestic political agenda for the foreseeable future.

The budget fight has been building since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in last November’s midterm election.

There are huge differences between Republicans and Democrats over not only the size of the budget cuts needed, but also the role of the federal government in people’s lives.

Republicans insist last year’s election results show Americans want to severely cut back on government spending and take steps to reduce the national debt, which is more than $14 trillion.

President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress counter that the size of the cuts Republicans want would harm the economy and place hardships on citizens who depend on government help.

But the president told state governors that both sides need to find common ground. "It is going to be a tough conversation to have, but it is one we need to have, and one I expect to have with congressional leaders in the weeks to come," he said.

The national debate over spending and the size of government is also taking place at the state level.  Republican governors in particular are pushing to scale back state-government spending and, in some cases, move to limit the right of public-employee unions to negotiate on issues like pensions and health care.

New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, told the CBS program Face the Nation that he believes Americans are looking for political leadership to make difficult cuts in federal and state budgets. "And I think the people of the United States are ready for a frank, adult conversation about it.  I have seen that in New Jersey.  I have done a lot of things that people say, 'I do not like, but I am glad you are taking it on because you have to, because we know we are in trouble," he said.

Analyst Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution says the budget debate will dominate this year’s political agenda, and could carry over into next year as well.

Galston says the public will also have a major role in the debate and is concerned with two key issues. "Number one, people are worried about the level of spending and the amount of borrowing the United States government is doing.  And number two, they do not want the government to shut down," he said.

The last government shutdown occurred in late 1995 and early 1996 when then-president Bill Clinton and Republican congressional leaders sparred over the budget.

Republicans have some unpleasant memories of that showdown, says John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute, a guest on VOA’s Encounter program. "They are mostly, especially the leaders, not looking for a shutdown.  They saw in 1995 that it did not work that well in their conflict with President Clinton.  President Clinton came out in the world of public opinion better for that conflict," he said.

Brookings analyst Bill Galston says how the budget showdown plays out politically will have a big impact on next year’s presidential campaign. "What happens in 2011 will define to a very substantial degree the terrain of the conversation and the terrain of the political battle in 2012.  So this is a game for very high stakes and both sides know it," he said.

And Galston adds that the budget showdown is being closely watched overseas as well. "The rest of the world is looking at the United States and asking a version of a very fundamental question, namely, 'Does the world’s oldest democracy have the capacity to govern itself?"

The immediate debate deals with what kind of additional cuts should be made to this year’s federal budget, which runs through September.  Once that is settled, lawmakers and the president will turn their attention to Mr. Obama’s 2012 budget plan that calls for $3.7 trillion in spending, an amount Republicans believe is far too high.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid