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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More