US Republicans arm for Congress battles

US Republicans eagerly geared up for battle in Congress this week, warning Democrats of an aggressive push to slash spending and an early assault on President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform.

With most politicians already eyeing the 2012 presidential election, the US Congress returns on Wednesday with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and a slimmed-down Democratic majority in the Senate.

Buoyed by their gains in the November mid-term elections, which also saw the grassroots conservative Tea Party movement win its first lawmakers, Republicans are champing at the bit to try to unravel two years of legislation enacted by Obama’s Democrats.

Topping the Republicans’ “to do” list are the nation’s $1,3-trillion budget deficit and healthcare reform, with right-wing lawmakers saying they are responding to voters’ anger at the stagnant economy and high unemployment.

Representative Fred Upton, who takes over as chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, vowed tough oversight and “to bring up spending reductions virtually every week”.

And he told Fox News on Sunday his committee would hold a vote on moving to repeal Obama’s healthcare reform before the presidential State of the Union address at the end of January. Republicans cannot repeal health reform while Obama has a presidential veto, but plan instead to block White House efforts to fund its implementation.

“If we pass this Bill, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do the same thing. But then we’re going to go after this Bill piece by piece,” Upton said.

Huge opposition
Obama’s signature legislation, pushed through Congress despite huge Republican opposition early last year, aims to ensure that all Americans have healthcare insurance.

But Tea Party favourite Michele Bachmann told CBS: “Obamacare will bankrupt the country … It’s very costly, it’s unwieldy.

“So we will put forth a clean repeal Bill of Obamacare.”

In his weekly national address on Saturday, Obama reminded Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives that they have a “shared responsibility to move this country forward”.

“It’s time to make some serious decisions about how to keep our economy strong, growing, and competitive in the long run,” the president said.

But serving notice that a spirit of bi-partisanship hesitantly forged in late December looked set to evaporate, Representative Darrell Issa said: “I think we’re going to be in a constant battle over jobs and the economy.”

Issa, who will be the new chairperson of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and who last year called the Obama administration “one of the most corrupt”, also warned he intends to rigorously oversee spending.

Debt ceiling
The Republican bid to rein in spending appears focused in part on the nation’s debt ceiling.

The US is about $400-billion away from hitting the current debt ceiling of $14,3-trillion. But fiscal conservatives in Congress are opposed to raising the limit, believing it is already high enough.

Refusing to raise the ceiling would be “insanity” and would mean “essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history”, warned Austan Goolsbee, chairperson of Obama’s council of economic advisers, on ABC’s This Week.

But incoming lawmaker Mike Kelly told CBS: “Raising the debt ceiling to me is absolutely irresponsible. We’ve been spending money for so long that we don’t have and keep saying, well, it’s OK.”

Democratic Party chairperson Tim Kaine said on Sunday the president, while aiming to work with the Republicans, was not going to kow-tow to them as they wield their newfound political muscle.

“He’s not going to play ‘mother may I’ with the Republicans. He’s going to govern,” he told CNN. — AFP


Salie-Hlophe accuses Goliath of lying and racism

In response to Goliath’s gross misconduct complaint, Salie-Hlophe says Goliath has ‘an unhealthy obsession with my marriage’

Treasury is still seeking SAA funds

The government has committed an additional R2-billion to the airline, but has yet to pay it out

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.