The budget预算 The real fight begins真正的战斗打响了
As a government shutdown looms, an attempt to grapple with America’s long-term deficit problems is at last under way
CONGRESS may not be very good at passing budgets, but that is not for lack of discussion of them. This week it was by three overlapping budgetary debates: about a “continuing resolution” to keep the government up and running for the rest of this fiscal year, about next year’s budget and about whether to raise the legal limit on the federal government’s debt. Lawmakers have just under six months to sort out next year’s budget, and under six weeks before America’s debt reaches the current ceiling. But without a new resolution, the government’s authority to spend will expire at midnight on April 8th, forcing much of it to shut up shop. As The Economist went to press, the Republicans who run the House of Representatives, the Democrats who run the Senate and Barack Obama himself were holding last-ditch talks, but also warning their staffs to prepare for a shutdown.
This cliffhanger is the culmination of months of fiscal bickering, punctuated by stopgap continuing resolutions. Since February the Republicans have been holding out for $61 billion in cuts to this year’s budget, including assaults on favoured Democratic causes such as public broadcasting (see article). The Democrats argue that their proposal is too extreme, too political, and too narrowly focused. The previous two continuing resolutions, which had lifespans of two and three weeks respectively, were intended to allow the two sides enough time to hammer out a compromise for the rest of the year.