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Washington Week: Focus on Fiscal Battles

  • Michael Bowman

After weeks focused on Syria, Washington is turning its attention to fiscal deadlines that, if not met, could provoke a limited U.S. government shutdown and another downgrade of America’s credit rating.

President Barack Obama is expected to address this very topic in remarks on Monday. The drama is a replay of partisan battles over federal spending and the president's signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare, a major component of which will be activated October 1.

President Obama says America’s fiscal picture is improving.

“The deficit has been cut in half since I came into office. It is continuing on a trend line of further reductions. If we want to do more deficit reduction, I have already put out a budget that says ‘let us do it’,” said Obama.

Republican lawmakers are not satisfied. House Speaker John Boehner:

“For the sake of our economy, we will continue to do everything we can to repeal, dismantle, and defund Obamacare. Another important part of our plan for jobs is reining in the massive deficits and debt that is hurting our economy and jeopardizing the American dream for our kids and grandkids,” said Boehner.

So far, House Republicans appear divided on how best to pursue those goals. Further domestic spending cuts sought by Republicans will get no Democratic support, says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“This is one of the dumbest ideas you could advance: cut education to reduce the deficit. No! Invest in education to grow the economy and bring money to the Treasury,” said Pelosi.

And the White House says it will not negotiate on the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare is formally known.

Spokesman Jay Carney said, “We will not accept anything that delays or defunds Obamacare. Threatening a government shutdown over an ideological position is not something most Americans would believe is the right thing to do."

Without a funding extension, the U.S. government’s spending authority expires at the end of this month. The federal government will reach its borrowing limit weeks later.