« PM2.5対策 監視強めて正確な情報提供を | トップページ | 代表質問 安倍政権を攻めあぐねる野党 »

2013年3月 6日 (水)

米国歳出削減 大統領と議会は混乱収拾急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 6, 2013)
Obama, Congress must unsnarl chaos over budget
米国歳出削減 大統領と議会は混乱収拾急げ(3月5日付・読売社説)

The automatic spending cuts aimed at slashing U.S. federal spending have been implemented. President Barack Obama and Republican and Democratic lawmakers must find points of compromise and unsnarl the confusion soon.

The spending cuts amount to 1.2 trillion dollars (about 110 trillion yen) over a 10-year period, with 85 billion dollars, or about 10 percent of government spending for fiscal 2013 (which started on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30), to be cut.

The automatic budget cuts were mandated in legislation passed in the summer of 2011 when Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a fiscal reconstruction plan. Without an agreement on a middle- or long-term fiscal deficit-cutting deal, the budget cuts were to be invoked in January.

To avert the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and middle-class tax increases, at least as a temporary fix, the deadline for implementing the budget cuts was put off by two months.
But negotiations between Obama and both parties collapsed, leading to the automatic budget cuts. This is an extremely serious situation.

While Obama and the Democrats have been calling for cutting the federal deficit by additional tax increases on the rich and spending cuts, Republicans adamantly oppose the tax increases.


Deep-rooted confrontation

This resulted in a deep-rooted confrontation that started even before last year's presidential election.

The automatic spending cuts will not immediately damage the U.S. economy or affect the people's lives, but if they are kept in place for a protracted period of time, ill effects will be felt both at home and abroad. The situation must be watched.

For instance, with the cuts in spending on national defense, about 800,000 civilian personnel of the U.S. Defense Department face furloughs, which could hinder U.S. security operations in the western Pacific and Japan.

With the cuts in air traffic controllers, some airport control towers might be closed. A large number of teachers may also be fired. With the budget cuts, these scenarios will come closer to reality.

In the long term, the cuts are likely to slow down the U.S. economy, which has at last shown signs of recovery, and also damage the world economy.

While the main budget for the current fiscal year has yet to be passed into law, the provisional six-month budget will expire on March 27.

Unless the main budget or a new provisional budget is decided on, further disarray will follow and may even cause a government shutdown.

The focal issue at least for the time being is whether the confrontation between Obama and congressional Republicans will end before such adverse effects spread.


Radical solution required

The responsibilities of the president and the Congress are grave. It is important for them to compromise soon and produce a radical solution to realize both fiscal reconstruction and economic growth, instead of continuing an unproductive exchange of denunciations.

There are many pending problems over fiscal management. Unless the limit on federal borrowing is raised by the middle of May, the U.S. government may even default on its obligations.

The president and Democratic and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly put off solving problems every time their negotiations have deadlocked. But makeshift measures will not lead to a fundamental solution.

The big question is whether the United States can rid itself of "politics characterized by indecision."

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 5, 2013)
(2013年3月5日01時29分  読売新聞)


« PM2.5対策 監視強めて正確な情報提供を | トップページ | 代表質問 安倍政権を攻めあぐねる野党 »





« PM2.5対策 監視強めて正確な情報提供を | トップページ | 代表質問 安倍政権を攻めあぐねる野党 »