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U.S. government shutdown imminent

April 7th, 2011

As the federal government continues to decide on the current federal budget, a pivotal week in the budget battle approaches.

With the White House and Congress divided on how much must be cut from the budget, the threat of a government shutdown continues to remain on the horizon.

The biggest controversy has stemmed from the debate regarding how much must be cut from the Federal budget.  While both Democrats and Republicans believe that the cuts are required, they argue over the amount necessary to be trimmed.  Furthermore, there are also questions as to which programs require more cuts.

White House officials and both the Senate and the House have tried to negotiate on the most applicable figures. The administration, along with other sources, has implied that those involved in the process are working with a $33 billion cut in mind.

Many officials, most of which are Republicans, have argued that they have still not settled on an exact budgetary figure.

One of the biggest criticisms stems from the debt that the government has accumulated during the Obama administration.  Administration officials have necessitated a desire to raise the debt ceiling from where it currently is.  The White House fears that if this action is not taken, the nation could face default.  Republican lawmakers do not believe that this threat is valid enough to implement a rise in the debt ceiling, expected to reach around $14.3 trillion by April 15.

While there are issues that involve the current administration, the primary battle lies within Congress.  The divide exists among the Democratic controlled Senate and Republican controlled House.  Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has been working the proper cuts.

His most recent proposal includes a plan to cut the budget by $4 trillion within the next 10 years. The results of this proposal would most likely mean the disintegration of Medicare, something unlikely to be supported by Democrats. About 60 percent of the budget makes up social programs, which includes Medicare.

Many Republican lawmakers have attacked the Democrats as being the reason for the possibility of a government shutdown.  Speaker of the House John Boehner referred to a budget cut of around $63 trillion, which the Senate never passed. He implied that they would be at fault if the government does shutdown.

Boehner may be in an even deeper entanglement than believed.  According to Professor Larry Schwab, of John Carroll’s political science department, he faces a partisan fight. Schwab explained, “One of the key aspects of this budget battle is the dilemma of Speaker John Boehner. On the one hand, he faces pressure from some Republicans to accept the Democrats’ latest proposal and thus avoid a government shutdown. On the other hand, he is being pressured by other Republicans to reject all Democratic proposals that fall short of a complete Republican victory in the debate.”

This makes it all the more difficult for the ideal proposals to be initiated.

On Tuesday, President Obama urged lawmakers to reach an agreement. He also said a government shutdown is the “last thing we need” when the economy is just starting to turn itself around, a departure from his previously reserved stance on the negotiations.

He went on to say Democrats “have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point.”