LA CROSSE Wisconsin (WXOW) – With the Federal Government status quo more or less maintained in Tuesday's election, the current group in Washington now faces the pressing issue of the so-called "fiscal cliff" – referring to the $600-billion in automatic spending cuts and tax alterations set to take effect January 1.
The policy was first put into effect as a deterrent – meant to motivate a congressional "supercommittee" to come up with a bi-partisan plan to cut the federal deficit, or else face the prospect of arbitrary, automatic cuts going into effect instead.
But after the committee failed to even muster a proposal, we are now less than two months from the cliff taking effect.
"I think automatic cuts are a lousy way to run a country," said Democrat Ron Kind, Wisconsin's third district Congressman.
"We should be wise enough to know what investments make sense and what spending we can reduce and get rid of. There's a lot of inefficiency with programs in the federal government," Kind said.
Arguably the most contentious issue in reaching a compromise on a new budget deal is the extension or expiration of the George W. Bush era tax cuts.
The President has said he opposes extending the tax cuts for those making greater than $250-thousand annually.
Republicans want them extended across the board.
"My suggestion would be to extend the current tax rates for everybody. We should increase taxes on nobody, so that we can provide certainty and give us time to hammer out pro-growth tax reform," said Senator Ron Johnson (R, Wisconsin). "I don't support any tax increases because I don't know of any tax that helps our economy grow or creates a job."
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the fiscal cliff's cuts, if they go into effect, would shrink America's economic growth by four percent.
The Commerce Department reported the economy grew at two percent in the most recent quarter, so the cuts would effectively put us into a recession.
That's why both sides of the aisle would like to see a deal accomplished during the upcoming "lame duck" session – and a long-term deal, rather than a short term one.
"President Obama is still the president, the Senate remains in Democratic hands and the U.S. House remains Republican," Johnson said. "I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference between the lame duck and the new administration that was elected last night. So from my standpoint we might as well start working on long term solutions now."
"The solution is a comprehensive budget deal that's going to require compromise from both sides in order to put us the path to bringing our debt to a sustainable level," said Kind. "That's the solution."
"Now whether you've got the key people willing to sit down and negotiate some kind of agreement remains to be seen," he added.
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