The Times West Virginian

Headline News

February 27, 2013

‘Fever’ over budget battle has not broken

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama promised this time would be different, that if he won re-election, a Republican “fever” would break and legislative gridlock would ease.

Yet just over a month into his second term, Washington is once again mired in a partisan budget battle. And rather than figuring out a way to work with Republicans, Obama is largely ignoring them, trying instead to build public support for his approach to averting automatic budget cuts — and perhaps overplaying his hand if the dire consequences he’s warning of are not quickly felt by many Americans.  

For their part, Republicans are ignoring Obama, too, choosing biting news conferences on Capitol Hill over negotiations with the president.

As a result, $85 billion is almost certain to be yanked from the nation’s budget beginning Friday. After more than two years of bitter, down-to-the-wire negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, shutting down the government and preventing tax hikes on most people, a failure to push off the looming cuts would mark the first time Obama and Congress actually had blown past a crucial economic deadline.

That’s hardly the rosy scenario Obama promised as he ran for re-election and tried to convince voters that Washington would be a different place in his second term.

At a fundraiser in June the president told donors that if he won re-election, “the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that.”

“My expectation is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I’m not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again,” he added.

Obama advisers insist there are some signs the “fever” has eased since the November election. In a major concession, Republicans gave in to Obama during the year-end “fiscal cliff” negotiations when he insisted on higher tax rates for upper income earners. And the GOP decided last month to extend the debt limit for three months after previously demanding that any increase be paired with an equal amount of spending cuts.

But that doesn’t mean the GOP is ready to give in again as Washington lurches toward Friday’s deadline. Some Republicans see the sequester battle as their best opportunity to stand their ground and exact deep spending cuts from Obama — even if it means taking money from the Pentagon, a step Republican lawmakers have traditionally opposed.

After all, many House Republicans believe they have a mandate to cut spending significantly. Despite a dismal national approval rating, the GOP maintained control of the House — even though it lost seats — in the November election, in part by pledging to cut government spending and block Obama’s proposals for increasing taxes.

“Republicans feel very strongly that they have a substantive argument on the spending problem, particularly given the way the national debt has increased over the last four years,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist and former adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “They believe that in the long run, having fought on those issues is going to be a part of bringing back the Republican Party.”

And Obama isn’t budging on his insistence on higher tax revenue along with spending cuts.

The White House has warned that the broad-based $85 billion in cuts could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. The cuts would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to forced unpaid days off for hundreds of thousands of workers.

But the impact won’t be immediate, giving negotiators some breathing room to work on a deal.

That is, if both sides decide to actually start negotiating.  

Obama is focusing his efforts on rallying public support for his sequester offset plan, including a trip Tuesday to Newport News, Va., an area that could be hurt by the defense cuts. His message to America: The cuts will be drastic; they’ll result in job loss, and Republicans will be to blame.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other Democrats derided the effort as a stunt aimed at tossing political red meat to conservative voters.

    July 31, 2014

  • Obama takes tougher line against casualties in Gaza

    The Obama administration condemned the deadly shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza Wednesday, using tough, yet carefully worded language that reflects growing White House irritation with Israel and the mounting civilian casualties stemming from its ground and air war against Hamas.

    July 31, 2014

  • House approves VA overhaul

    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
    The $16.3 billion measure also would allow the VA to hire thousands of doctors and nurses and rewrite employment rules to make it easier to fire senior executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly.

    July 31, 2014

  • Contract dispute delays ‘Big Bang Theory’ production

    Production on a new season of “The Big Bang Theory” is being delayed because of a contract dispute with its top actors.

    July 30, 2014

  • What’s a group selfie? An usie

    What do you call a group selfie? An usie, of course!

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate changes House bill for highway funds

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued transportation programs in recent years.

    July 29, 2014

  • State close to national average in credit card debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills.

    July 29, 2014

  • New VA secretary confirmed by Senate

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads