Triad Lawmakers Weigh In On 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks

7:10 PM, Nov 30, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- The clock is ticking as the much-talked about "fiscal cliff" draws nearer.

Republican and Democratic leaders continue to meet to try to hammer out a deal that would avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts come 2013. And while North Carolina's Congressional delegation isn't directly involved in the closed-door meetings, they can still offer their opinions to their party leaders.

So what do North Carolina's senators and representatives think? And what are they doing to be a part of the solution? WFMY News 2 has asked the Triad's members of Congress -- Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC, 12th District), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC, 6th District), Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC, 13th District) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC, 5th District) -- how they plan to help.

Read: Make A Difference: Contact Your NC Lawmaker

On Friday afternoon, the state's Congressional delegates began to offer their views.

Rep. Coble said both sides should put everything on the table. For the GOP, that must include the idea of tax increases, he said. For the Democrats, that means being open to making deep spending cuts.

"I don't see that it would compromise principle by having every issue on the table," Coble said. "And by that, I mean ... Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, defense [and the] fiscal cliff itself."

Rep. Foxx, a fellow Republican, said she isn't in favor of any tax increases. She pointed out that the GOP has offered up ways to increase revenue through limiting tax deduction, and said Republican have already offered ideas for compromise. Foxx pointed to last year's House budget as an example of a GOP solution to the crisis and blamed President Barack Obama for holding up progress.

"The President and his people seem to think they can defy the laws of economics," she said. "They cannot. There is a reckoning and it's here."

Democrat Rep. Miller said there's plenty of blame to go around for both parties. Miller said Congress created the problem, Congress has failed to find a solution so far and that Congress might not get it fixed before the deadline.

"We're probably going to cut the deficit [if we fail to reach a deal]," Miller said. "But we're probably going to go into recession because of what was done to ease the deficit by increasing taxes so sharply."

Rep. Miller said he didn't believe the "cliff" is as steep as many are making it out to be, however, and that damage would be limited as long as lawmakers found a solution early in the spring.

Another congressman was a bit more optimistic that a deal could be reached. Rep. Watt said the full picture of progress isn't being shown to the public in the interest of protecting the negotiations. He said he believed both sides would come together to strike a deal.

Sen. Hagan couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but her staff did arrange for an interview with WFMY News 2 on Tuesday.

When WFMY News 2 met Sen. Burr at Piedmont Triad International Airport, he declined a request for an interview. His office released a statement that said, in part: "If we are serious about addressing our nation's financial problems and avoiding the fiscal cliff, we need to simplify the tax code, eliminate tax loopholes and lower rates so that small businesses can grow and families get a break.

"Additionally, reductions in spending must be part of any serious proposal," the statement continued. "I support spending cuts along the lines of those outlined by the Bowles-Simpson commission, but Democrats have been unwilling to put a serious deficit reduction offer on the table so far, and the President's most recent proposal includes more stimulus spending that will cost taxpayers $50 billion in the next year alone."

You can encourage your lawmaker to be part of finding a solution by contacting them. Look up their contact information here.

WFMY News 2

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