News / USA

World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington

World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington
World Watching Budget Showdown In Washington
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid