Bloomberg News, 11-11-12, p. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-11/lawmakers-in-both-parties-see-resolution-to-u-dot-s-dot-fiscal-cliff#p1 Top lawmakers in both political parties today predicted a resolution to the standoff on the U.S. fiscal cliff that threatens to yield $607 billion in tax increases and automatic spending cuts in January. They said details of a debt-cutting deal may come later.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, said he thinks lawmakers canreach a “framework agreement” directing tax and spending panels in Congress to craft a broad deal next year that cuts soaring budget deficits. At the same time, he said, they could agree now to a smaller package of spending cuts and some tax-code changes before the year is over.
If the legislative panels don’t act, all sides would have to agree to a fallback plan that would be more acceptable than the automatic approach that is sparking economic uncertainty, Conrad said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I absolutely believe there is room for agreement,” Conrad said.
Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said he agrees there is little chance of the automatic policies occurring, and said Republicans are open to some tax increases if Democrats would be willing to embrace a broad reform of the Medicare health insurance system for the elderly to yield big cost savings. Short of a broad-based deal, he said at the very least any extension of current policies shouldn’t be the type of several-months stop-gap that has marked the deadlocked fiscal policy debate.
“I hope we’ll at least gosubstantially down the road toward solving the problem,” said Corker, who also appeared on the “Fox News Sunday” show.