WASHINGTON – Congress and the White House have a limited time to reach a compromise on taxes and spending to avoid going off a “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year. While some are not optimistic that a deal will be reached this month, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner believes we won’t go over the cliff.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen. But you know, you go up and down … I have two sets of concerns. One, obviously, that we don’t go over. Two, that we don’t string this out until Dec. 31,” Warner, a Democrat, said on WTOP Friday morning.
“Each day that we go on we not only have folks not hiring but we increasingly have consumers in the most important shopping season of the year saying, ‘Maybe I’m not going to buy that Christmas present because I don’t know what’s going to happen,'” Warner said.
He suggested that partisan politicians need to move forward and accept the reality of the situation at hand.
“The fact is, we’ve had an election, the president has won. We know we’re going to have to generate some additional revenues, the best down payment is to go ahead and let the Bush tax rates for the top two percent go back up,” Warner said.
Warner added that paired with letting the tax rates expire, Congress needs to move forward with a larger tax reform effort to ensure entitlement programs are around 30 years from now.
While Warner agrees elected officials need to come to the table and find a compromise, he says there is a protocol that senior senators are observing as the White House and Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio take the lead.
“What we’ve all done is we’ve stood down right now because it’s appropriate that the president, who has just been re-elected, and the speaker of the House are going to have to make the framework of this deal,” Warner said.
But he says once that framework is in place, there are members in both parties willing to stand up for a balanced compromise.
“There’s an awful lot of us willing to help fill in the details in not only avoiding the cliff, but doing the hard work next year on tax reform and working through entitlement reform,” he said.
A concern felt throughout the Senate is that too little time will be left to come to a comprehensive deal, Warner says.
“One of the things we’ve seen in Washington that has disturbed me as a former business guy is that there seems to be this tendency to wait to the last moment and then cobble something together,” he said. “In this case in particular, that’s not the way to do it. There’s too much at stake.”