WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

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As Fiscal Cliff Looms, Gap On Tax Policy Remains

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The election is over and now the hard task of policy making resumes. Before President Obama and members of the new Congress take their oaths, the 112th Congress is returning to session. In January, deep spending cuts will hit the Pentagon and Virginia's defense industry if they don't take action.

Lawmakers also need to decide whether to extend all, none or some of the Bush tax cuts. From the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner are talking, tax policy remains a hurdle.

"There was message sent to us by the American people based on the campaign and that is people making all this money have to contribute a little bit more," Reid said in a press conference Wednesday.

Boehner countered in a press conference of his own. "But a balanced approach isn't balanced if it means higher taxes on small businesses that are the key to getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving," Boehner said.

Americans are frustrated by partisan jockeying, but many have come to expect it. Michelle Weatherly of Northern Virginia says she's doubtful a deal can be made because "the feelings are so bitter in Washington."  

"At my age I've gotten quite cynical unfortunately," she says. "But it's true … I think it's just really sad how no one can agree on anything."

Keannan Srinivasan, a Virginia Democrat, also has a message for his party: reach across the aisle or the economy won't improve. 

"And of course they aren't going to get it done unless they reach across the aisle because it's not an absolute majority," Srinivasan says. "And I'll be very frank with you. Even when they had absolute majority the first two years they couldn't get everything done." 

But as both congressional party leaders said Wednesday on Capitol Hill, now is the time to work together. The nation is watching to see if they stand by those words. 

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