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Gwinnet Daily Post - POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Local Congressmen Working on 'Fiscal Cliff' Solution

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By Camie Young

The holiday season is typically a slow time for politicians -- a break between the election and the new year.

#But this November and December, congressmen are spending more time in Washington trying to find a solution to the so-called "fiscal cliff" looming for Jan. 1.

#The problem centers around tax increases set to come with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and across the board spending cuts outlined in other bills, a situation that some economists say could send the country back into a recession.

#Lawrenceville Rep. Rob Woodall said the principal focus of the discussions should be about deficit reduction through spending reforms.

#"The president has done a great job of convincing America that this 'fiscal cliff' is a debate about increasing tax revenue. It's not -- everyone agrees that revenue has to go up. The president has taxpayers that he wants to punish and others that he wants to reward, and that's bad tax policy," Woodall said. "While that may be good politics, it is bad policy and Congress will absolutely fight him on it. But when it comes to the need to raise federal revenue from its anemic levels of this recession, we all -- Democrats and Republicans -- recognize that we need to."

#Woodall said that the Republican-led House has passed several bills to reduce spending, but the Senate has not. He blamed the upcoming sequestration -- across the board spending cuts scheduled by another law -- on the president and the Senate. And he worries that the outcome this winter will be another short-term fix to the long-term problems.

#"Congress and the people are accustomed to these eleventh-hour deals, but we owe America better," he said. "I am proud the House has, year-after-year, laid out long-term plans to get America's excessive spending habits under control. I remain hopeful that we can soon measure 'success' by cutting spending in the areas we need to be cutting and implementing long-term fixes to our broken tax code.

#"If I could ask one thing of this new 113th Congress, it would be for the Senate to get in the game and work with the House on solutions early, as the House completed its work on this issue more than 18 months ago. The Senate, on the other hand, hasn't even passed a budget in more than three years," he said. "Consensus and negotiation are absolutely part of the legislative process, but one can only negotiate and find consensus if their partners, in this case the Senate, are willing to create their own ideas and put them on the table for all to see. That is my great hope, and I know that if the citizenry demands it, the Senate is capable of delivering."

#U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, who also represents a portion of Gwinnett, said leaders must complete a "grand bargain" during the lame duck session.

#"With (Speaker John) Boehner saying that he would be open to discuss new revenues, this is a good sign," Johnson said earlier this month. "Democrats should be open-minded as we allow negotiations to proceed on a so called 'grand bargain' that reduces long-term debt with a balanced approach of budget cuts along with new revenues."


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