Senate majority leader Harry Reid claims a mandate from Election 2012 to let tax cuts expire for the 'richest of the rich.' House Speaker John Boehner says the mandate is for members of Congress to work together.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner hit a note of compromise not often heard in the last Congress as they weighed in Wednesday on how to deal with the "fiscal cliff" in Congress's upcoming lame-duck session.
But their conciliatory tones, in separate briefings on Capitol Hill, belied sharply different views on how to handle the looming fiscal crisis – and how Tuesday's election should impact lawmaking in Congress.
“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,” Speaker Boehner said in a briefing with reporters. “My message today is not one of confrontation, but of conviction."
Senator Reid, a former boxer, concurred.
“I know how to fight. I know how to dance. I don't dance as well as I fight, but I'd much rather dance any time,” he said, in a separate briefing. “It's better to dance than to fight.”
But whether Congress tangos or tussles, congressional action is needed before the American economy goes off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1. That’s when expiring fiscal policy amounting to more than $600 billion in higher taxes and new mandated spending cuts goes into effect. Economists say that could put the economy into a recession in the first half of 2013.
Reid said Congress should deal with the cliff as part of what others have called a “grand bargain,” a wide-ranging debt and deficit reduction deal. And Congress should grapple with that big-picture problem as soon as possible.
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