Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 28, 2012

Area lawmakers: Cautious optimism on ‘fiscal cliff’ deal

WASHINGTON — Area lawmakers said Thursday they remain cautiously optimistic that a deal can still be reached before the year’s end to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts more commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff.”

“I remain optimistic that the Congress will continue to work to craft legislation that will address our nation’s deficits and avert the dire fiscal and economic consequences often cited in regard to the fiscal cliff,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said. “The many months of budget negotiations in the current Congress may yet yield some agreements on which to build a bipartisan compromise. There’s no reason why the Congress cannot reach an agreement and get its job done. I hope West Virginians will join me in pressing to reach a responsible accord.”

“I’ve always been ready to work with anyone to find a real solution — that’s why from the start I’ve been an outspoken supporter of the Bowles-Simpson framework, which requires some give and take from everybody because everything is on the table,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said. “But it’s important that any solution also protect core programs like Social Security and Medicare. And we also have to get rid of loopholes and find commonsense solutions to reform our tax code. I’m still hopeful that we’re going to reach a deal.”

 If Congress fails to act, and the automatic tax increases and spending cuts take effect, it will have an impact on every worker, family and business in the country and damage the nation’s economic recovery, Kevin Hall, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said.

“Senator Warner believes voters should determine whether their elected leaders were part of the problem or tried to be part of a bipartisan solution — and hold them accountable for their actions,” Hall said. “As a founding member of the Senate’s Gang of Six, Sen. Warner has been working toward bipartisan agreement on these fiscal issues for the past two years. He repeatedly has said he believes a balanced compromise must include additional spending cuts, new revenues and phased-in reforms to strengthen our health and retirement programs, including Medicare and Social Security.”

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Republicans are to blame for the fiscal cliff stalemate.

“House Republicans are paralyzed by their own political problems — which is, frankly, a danger to our country,” Rockefeller said. “We must work together to find a budget solution that puts us on a strong fiscal path and grows our economy, without hurting hard-working families and seniors in West Virginia and across the country. We must work to find common ground on what that final solution looks like, but I won’t accept a deal that rips safety nets out from under so many West Virginians.”

However, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate is not willing to compromise.

“I am certainly willing to compromise if there is a reasonable deal from the Senate and the president, however, I am not going to just roll over and play dead,” Griffith said. “Compromise means both sides have to give a little. During the campaign, the president indicated he wanted $800 billion in revenues. Shortly after the election, Speaker Boehner proposed $800 billion in new revenues. He also invited the president to join him in working to identify new spending cuts as well. The president’s response was to say he wanted double, $1.6 trillion in new revenues. The president also said he wanted the ability to raise the debt ceiling effectively without additional congressional oversight. And the president said we could discuss cuts at a later time. The president’s idea of compromise appears to be ‘take what I give you.’ The fact of the matter is that while the American people re-elected President Obama and a Democratic-led Senate, they also chose a Republican majority House. Therefore, all parties need to give a little and compromise in order to avoid the fiscal cliff. The House has sent legislation to the Senate regarding the fiscal cliff, which the Senate needs to act on. I would expect them to proceed as our founders intended and amend that legislation and send it back to us so we can resolve our differences. I await the Senate’s action and am prepared to work toward a reasonable solution.”

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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