The Straits Times
Published on Jan 05, 2013

Budget battles threaten to limit Obama's second-term agenda


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - After a brutal "fiscal cliff" battle, President Barack Obama's looming budget confrontation with Congress threatens to sharply curtail his second-term agenda and limit his ambitions on priorities such as immigration reform and gun control.

Mr Obama has vowed to push ahead with other legislative priorities during the fiscal fight, but faces the likelihood that they will be elbowed aside in a fierce struggle with Republicans over approaching deadlines to raise the limit on federal borrowing, cut spending and fund government operations.

Mr Obama and Congress must agree by the end of March on increasing the US$16.4 trillion (S$20.05 trillion) debt ceiling, the fate of US$85 billion in delayed automatic spending cuts and passage of a bill to fund the government after a temporary measure expires.

Those budget battles could be even more intense than the weeks-long "fiscal cliff" fight that ended on New Year's Day with an agreement to raise taxes on the wealthy, leaving divided Republicans itching for revenge and a fractured relationship between Mr Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.