WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012- Leaders of a divided Congress made their stances while calling for compromise on the impending “fiscal cliff” today. Although the balance of power remains the same in Washington after a brutal election season, expectations turn to the Republican-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate for a solution to the combination of spending cuts and tax increases triggered for the end of this year.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, emphasized today that “if there is a mandate in yesterday’s results, it is a mandate for us to find a way to work together on solutions to the challenges we face together as a nation.”
Economists and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warn the “fiscal cliff,” which includes expiring Bush-era tax rates and spending cuts set up by last year’s deal in the Budget Control Act, could cause another recession and a nine percent unemployment rate.
Expressing concern that a fiscal compromise cannot be solved “in the midst of a lame duck session of Congress,” he encouraged Congress to “avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a down payment on – and a catalyst for – major solutions, enacted in 2013, that begin to solve the problem.”
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reiterated Wednesday morning the he supports finding a compromise to address the fiscal cliff during the lame duck session of Congress that starts next week. “I’m not for kicking the can down the road,” he said. “I think we’ve done that far too much.”
Last night Reid issued a statement that “Democrats and Republicans must come together, and show that we are up to the challenge. This is no time for excuses. This is no time for putting things off until later.”
In his remarks Wednesday morning, Reid said Americans are “tired of partisan gridlock,” and that “I am going to do everything within my power to be as conciliatory as possible.”
“There was a message sent to us by the American people,” Reid said of the election results. “People making all this money have to contribute a little bit more. All of the polling we’ve done — the vast majority of people support that, including rich people.”
In an address on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said Republicans in the House are “willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.”
He noted that he would not accept increased revenue in the form of government “taking a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates.” In his remarks last night, Boehner reiterated that Americans renewed the House’s Republican majority, which “has been the primary line of defense for the American people against a government that spends too much, taxes too much and certainly borrows too much.”
“The president has called for a ‘balanced’ approach to the deficit – a combination of spending cuts and increased revenues,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “But a ‘balanced’ approach isn’t balanced if it means higher tax rates on the small businesses that are key to getting our economy moving again,” he said.
He cited the Bipartisan Tax Reform Act of 1986 as a model for “how to fix the tax code to strengthen our economy and address our debt.”
He implied a reformed tax code would generate revenue as the “byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all.”
Doing this would create a stronger, healthier economy, he said, and “a stronger economy means more revenue, which is what the president seeks.”
Boehner emphasized that going over part of the fiscal cliff and raising tax rates on the top two brackets “will cost our economy more than 700,000 jobs.” He further cited the accounting firm Ernst and Young, which said many of those hit with the rate increase will be small business owners – “the very people both parties acknowledge are the key to private sector job creation”
“In order to garner Republican support for new revenues, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up the entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our debt,” he continued.
“Mr. President, this is your moment. We’re ready to be led, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans,” Boehner concluded. “We want you to lead, not as a liberal or a conservative, but as the President of the United States of America.”
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