A sharp debate rages among top U.S. lawmakers on ways to create new jobs and deal with rising federal government deficits, with limited cuts on one side and bigger cuts on the other.
Democrats are attempting to pass a budget that will include President Barack Obama's spending priorities on infrastructure, education, new energy and scientific research.
Democrats are aligned with the President who says he will formally propose cuts dealing with 12 percent of the 2012 federal budget in Mid-February. A debate on the budget is expected to last months as proposals from both sides are considered.
Republicans are proposing sharper cuts than the President has mentioned so far, saying the nation's fiscal future will not be sustainable under the current policies. They have also proposed a repeal of last year's healthcare law which will eventually expand government insurance coverage to about 10 percent more of the U.S. population.
The nation's unemployment rate stands at 9.4 percent, with the rate fluctuating just under 10 ten percent for most of last year.
Meanwhile, the government's Congressional Budget Office is predicting a federal deficit of $1.480 trillion dollars in 2011. The nation's debt recently crossed the $14.059 trillion mark and is approaching its legal debt ceiling of $14.294 trillion.
On Friday, Senate leaders from both parties linked their respective efforts to job creation while addressing the deficit situation.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY began the process of putting the healthcare repeal bill in the legislative calendar last week, he said on Friday, noting the repeal is now available for Senate consideration.
More promises of lower premiums for some people at some point in the future is little comfort to those who are already seeing higher premiums or won't be able to keep the coverage they have as the President promised, said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY on Friday.
We need to repeal this [healthcare]bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will actually lower costs, prevent unsustainable entitlement promises and make it easier for employers to start hiring again, said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY on Friday.
The other chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, passed the bill McConnell proposed on January 19.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV says the Republican effort is off the mark and will not pay off. Instead, he urged support for the President's agenda.
While Democrats are focused on jobs, Republicans are pushing extreme, ideological plans to fire at least one million workers, explode our deficit by $1 trillion, and end Social Security and Medicare, said Reid said.
Republicans should stop playing to their base with political stunts, and start working with Democrats to create jobs, invest in what makes us stronger and cut what doesn't, he added.