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.
“I'm not for kicking the can down the road,” the majority leader said. “I think we've done that far too much.... We know what the issue is. We need to solve that issue. Waiting for a month, six weeks, six months, that's not going to solve the problem. We know what needs to be done. And so I think that we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done.”
Boehner explicitly ruled out such a move in his own statement to the press.
“We won't solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight, in the midst of a lame duck session of Congress,” he said. “And we certainly won't solve it by simply raising tax rates or taking a plunge off the fiscal cliff.”
Instead, Boehner set out a goal of achieving a “down payment” on the nation’s long-term financial solvency that would be a “catalyst” for “major solutions, enacted in 2013.”
Reid swore that neither he nor the speaker would “draw any lines in the sand” on the policy measures needed to avert a fiscal disaster – before both men did everything except say the words, “I have drawn a line in the sand.”
However, he did see Tuesday's election – President Obama’s electoral thrashing of Mitt Romney, a larger Democratic majority in the Senate, and gains for Democrats in the House – as a mandate from voters to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for households with income over $250,000.
“The mandate was, look at all the exit polls, look at all the polling,” Reid said. “The vast majority of the American people – rich, poor, everybody – agrees that the rich, [the] richest of the rich, have to help a little bit.”