United States – Budget Impasse and Possible Government Shutdown

April 7, 2011

By Padmini Arhant

United States is confronted with many contentious issues.

The disagreement on federal spending, funding for the rest of this year, the deficit, and the FY 2012 budget constitutes the highlight of the political standoff.

There is no doubt that deficit is a major concern not only for the elected officials but also the mainstream taxpayers especially the average citizens forced with tax burden and drastic spending cuts directly affecting vital programs such as health, education and environment protection.

Republican members have always maintained that balancing a budget means targeting essential services to the vulnerable members i.e. children health, youth population dependent on educational grants, senior citizens and veteran affairs without due consideration for the reverse impact on the net output.

Meanwhile, the tax breaks to the wealthiest including estate tax exemption passed during the Bush tax cuts extension in 2010 combined with disproportionate defense expenditure on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which were never even budgeted prior to engagement are contradictory to their objective in containing deficit.

The White House fiscal year 2012 budget and the 2011 federal spending is also based on drastic cuts in domestic discretionary spending expected to cause significant pain in states with budget crisis.

Again the Pentagon spending and corporate tax evasions have not drawn the White House and the conservatives’ attention in the crucial debate.

Otherwise – General Electric, America’s largest corporation having made ($14.2B) $14,200,000,000 in profits last year paid $0 in taxes — that’s right, zero dollars in taxes.

Further GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt ensured his compensation doubled and then diligently concentrated on imposing severe concessions in wages and benefits against 15,000 workers.

Ironically Jeffrey Immelt is the Chair of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness – the coveted status for any Corporate Executive to be in the realm of policy making at the executive branch.

People grievance in this regard is justified – Mr. Immelt assisted his company to evade taxes on its mega profits and subsequent to securing personal compensation double has been pursuing the workers to accept pay cuts – signifying the culture in the corporate dominant political systems.

Citizens petition seeking CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down and President Barack Obama for Mr. Immelt’s resignation is yet to be obliged much to public frustration.

CEO Jeffrey Immelt position as the Chair of the White House council is evidently in conflict of interest and therefore honoring citizens’ call to quit from the controversial post would be a dignified decision in a democratic setting.

Perhaps the lawmakers’ favoring austerity on the middle and low income America could review their overwhelming generosity in tax breaks facilitating certain corporations and the super rich executives to defraud the current taxation law.

Congressional Democrats particularly the progressives being the only hope for average Americans are hamstrung in their efforts to prevent the intense attacks against the working class.

Social security – the guaranteed safety net for the baby boomers and retirees is another misplaced political maneuver in the fiscal mismanagement.

The latest stopgap measure passed in the House by Republican majority providing a mere week funding instead of the remaining year reflects the lack of seriousness to perform the services pledged on the campaign trail.

Balanced approach and clear rationale is required to overcome the political gridlock contributing to possible government shutdown likely to exacerbate the situation rather than resolving for national benefit.

Congressional members from both parties are urged to set aside their respective political differences and earnestly involve in fruitful discussions to exemplify their commitment to the American electorate.

Representatives are elected to run the government efficiently and not dedicate to the closure for political appeasement.

Besides the House Speaker John Boehner in the tearful moment upon being elected the Republican leader declared the victory as the strong message from the American people to “change course.”

It is poignant to remind the esteemed Speaker John Boehner on the promises made at the emotional hour.

Republican Congressman John Boehner’s statements were:

“The people’s priorities will be our priorities. The people’s agenda will be our agenda.

This is our Pledge to America; this is our pledge to you!

Let’s start right now by recognizing this is not a time for celebration. This is a time to roll up our sleeves and go to work. We can celebrate when small businesses are creating jobs again.”

The status quo could be attributed to politics served more with rhetoric than actions and as for changing direction – it is worth travelling down memory lane when the then Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich successfully led the Government shut down under the former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Experimenting old ways for new results might yield self-satisfaction and in this instance to national detriment.

However prolonging the stalemate only confirms the reluctance to ‘Change’ despite the relevance in political stagnancy.

Promoting inaction is not the solution to the burgeoning problem and,

Political leaderships arriving at a consensus through middle ground without marginalizing those struggling to make ends meet or the demography striving hard to revive the economy is instrumental in leading the nation forward.

Spending cuts are vital in the areas that are redundant and destructive to humanity like incessant warfare as well as incentives to energy behemoths indulging in environmental damage.

Contrarily the spending reductions are invariably focused on life saving and prospective investments.

Hence the two substantial avenues to address the federal spending, balancing the budget and deficit control – essentially fiscal responsibility are:

Containing military expenditure with a definitive exit strategy on Iraq, Afghanistan and military bases around the world.

Tax reform to close tax evasion loopholes and tax structure review for fair assessments.

Additionally eliminating wasteful spending i.e. earmarks with the exception of infrastructure improvement in the congressional districts or uplifting social standards producing business and community growth opportunities benefitting all are viable for a meaningful breakthrough in the budget dispute.

It is time to deliver and not deliberate on the government functionality through collective reconciliation of the fiscal matter.

Hopefully all parties will rise to the occasion by recognizing their individual obligation to public and national service without alienating the issues for political purpose.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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