Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says very significant budget discussions are ongoing in Washington, disclosing deep philosophical differences between the two political parties.
Fortenberry, in an interview with Nebraska Radio Network, says Congress must leverage the impending deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit to make structural changes that will reduce the size of the federal deficit. Fortenberry sees little chance that Congress will approve the $4 trillion dollar package proposed last weekend by President Obama.
“Unfortunately, I think the bigger size deal is becoming more remote. There is such disagreement on how to structure that that the trajectory now is toward a smaller, more temporary deal,” Fortenberry tells us. “I think that’s a missed opportunity.”
Talks now seem to settle on trying to forge an agreement that would cut $2 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years. That is, when the two sides are talking.
Fortenberry says the most pronounced differences are between Republicans in the House and the president. Republicans insist that deep budget cuts be imposed before they will vote to raise the debt ceiling from the present $14.3 trillion. President Obama just as strongly insists that Republicans accept tax increases in the form of ending tax breaks approved during the administration of President George W. Bush. House Republicans leaders have rejected suggestions that tax hikes must be part of the deal.
Despite the entrenched positions on both sides, Fortenberry holds out hope a deal can be struck and the debt ceiling raised; avoiding default on obligations by the federal government August 2nd.
“I think it’s more likely than not to happen. I think it’s more probable than not. It just needs to include significant reductions in spending for the long term, because that’s undermining the economy,” Fortenberry says.
The seemingly unending negotiations on the debt ceiling are taking a toll on Washington, according to Fortenberry, who says Americans are looking for bold leadership from both the president and Congress.
“And if we can get there, hopefully we will dispel some of the cynicism,” Fortenberry says. “But, right now, we are mired in disagreement and it is a bit oppressive.”