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November 25, 2012

Retiring lawmakers have hope for avoiding cliff

Some retiring lawmakers--lawmakers who have been influential for years--got together on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday and were cautiously optimistic Washington can avoid the "fiscal cliff."

All will have a vote, assuming something is formally proposed before the 112th Congress adjourns early next year. And all thought some deal could be reached.

They include Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the Senate's #2 Republican; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas and Joseph Lieberman, Ind.-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

An excerpt from the conversation:

Moderator Candy Crowley: Senator, we -- 102 years -- more than a century's worth of Capitol Hill experience sitting right here. So I figure you all are pretty good readers of the crystal ball up here. Am I right in reading that you all think we're not going to go off this fiscal cliff? We will come up with something?  

HUTCHISON: Yes. I believe we will come up with a way forward. Do I think we're going to do everything by the end of this year? Probably not. But I think we will not have a fiscal cliff, we will have a plan, hopefully, to go forward. And we will have a blueprint. And we will set the stage for long-term.   

 KYL: I think it's likely that there will be a solution that's not a final solution, by any means, not a big solution, but will get us through the end of the year, into next year, with a plan for trying to deal with these issues long-term, over the course of the next Congress. That will require compromise. If I can just add one more thing to that. This contest of ideas that we talked about, I think it's critical to come to the right decision, the contest between liberal and conservative ideas --

 FRANK: Right.

 KYL: -- and other ideas in between. What's harmful is the contest between partisan Republicans and partisan Democrats. And there's a difference between ideologies and pure politics, because when politics intervenes, it creates gotcha situations, votes that can be used in 30 second commercials by one side or the other, and it results in gridlock. So I think what we need to try to find here is a way to have the debates about policy and get to the point of compromise, when possible, but to do as much as we can to keep partisan politics out of the equation.

 FRANK:  first of all, partisanship, I believe, is very important if it's done right. You don't have democracy without parties. That's never been a -- a system. The problem I have -- and -- and there are legitimate differences that should be debated. The problem is when -- when those differences become so embittered, that people can't then compromise or -- or come together. And I -- I think partisanship within the parties serve an important part of this. And I want to say this in terms of this -- and now I'm going to be a little partisan. I became chairman of the Financial Services Committee in 2007. And I immediately began to work with Hank Paulson, the Republican secretary of the Treasury, and Ben Bernanke, George Bush's appointment (INAUDIBLE) some Republicans who right now forget that. Um, we did some work with them. And people forget, in the last months of 2007, George Bush went to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and said, I need a -- guess what -- a stimulus, that terrible word. And Pelosi and Reid worked with him to do that. And then in 2008, they came up. John, you and I worked together on the whole question of the response to the -- to the financial crisis. I believe that we had, in 2007 and 2008 -- this is not a longstanding problem. A great deal of cooperation with the Bush administration. I do believe that there were elected (INAUDIBLE) 2010, the Tea Party influence, who repudiated the notion of compromise. And some of them said it explicitly. So I -- I think partisanship, you've got to start from a position of principle and then you work together. And I think in 2007 and 2008, we showed how you could do that.

LIEBERMAN: Candy, let me -- let me just join in the general hopefulness that we're going to avoid the fiscal cliff. But it's not a done deal and it's not a certainty. And the reason is the country is -- the government is on automatic pilot to the fiscal cliff, to massive tax increases and really to the horrible, uh, spending cuts on January 1st unless we act. So if Congress does nothing, which Congress has gotten pretty good at doing these days, uh, we'll go over the fiscal cliff. So this -- there's work to be done and compromises to be reached.


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Thomas Nass

In the vernacular of our Native American brothers, I would designate our congress and senate as: Haphazard Assemblages of Men and Women with “many wires down”. I can only Hope that the New Arrivals” will see to the “Re-stringing” of these Wires!

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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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