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
  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

  • ‘Obamacare’ under attack as conservatives eye 2016

    Republicans eyeing the 2016 White House race battered President Barack Obama’s health care law and nicked each other Saturday, auditioning before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the campaign’s unofficial start.

    April 13, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner

    The world’s top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right.
    Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying slowdown and global tensions over Ukraine, policymakers said they believe there is a foundation for sustained growth that can provide jobs for the millions of people still looking for work five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    April 13, 2014

  • There’s a new ‘face,’ but old problems for health care law

    Abruptly on the spot as the new face of “Obamacare,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.
    Burwell, until now White House budget director, was named by President Barack Obama on Friday to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the messy rollout of the health care overhaul.

    April 12, 2014

  • Australia leader confident sounds are from Flight 370

    With the Malaysian jetliner mystery now five weeks old, officials have narrowed the search zone for the missing plane and are “very confident” the underwater signals they have heard are from its black box, Australia’s prime minister said Friday.
    At the same time, however, those electronic signals are fading, Tony Abbott added.

    April 12, 2014

  • Dreams dashed in fatal bus crash

    It was a busload of opportunity: young, low-income, motivated students, destined to become the first in their families to go to college, journeying from the concrete sprawl of Los Angeles to a remote redwood campus 650 miles north.
    Those dreams shattered for some Thursday in an explosive freeway collision that left 10 dead — students, chaperones and both drivers — and dozens hospitalized.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads