By James Harrison
With 24 days left for a deal to be brokered to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," both Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Scott DesJarlais said they are prepared to stay in Washington, D.C., well into the holidays to cast a final vote.
Beyond that, there isn't much else the congressmen can do.
Regardless, both lawmakers expressed desires Friday for what they'd like to see included in a final outcome of ongoing negotiations between President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. If the two cannot find a compromise satisfactory to both the White House and Congress, a mix of nearly $700 billion of tax increases and automatic spending cuts will go into effect at year's end, possibly throwing the U.S. economy back into a recession.
For Fleischmann, the issue lies completely in the realm of government spending. In an emailed statement, the congressman suggested there was no need for increased revenues through taxes to be a part of the discussion.
"We have a spending problem and not a revenue problem," Fleischmann said. "Pro-growth that lowers rates and broadens the base will eventually bring in more revenue through economic growth."
The comments fall in line with a recent blog post written by the congressman, in which he suggested the fiscal cliff was not as urgent of an issue as a lack of jobs.
Fleischmann argued that a raise in taxes on the nation's top wage earners would harm businesses more than help.
"Sure, it's important to deal with our fiscal crisis," Fleischmann wrote. "But we really need to address the jobs crisis. President Obama wants Congress to raise taxes on what he calls 'the wealthiest' Americans--those making over $200,000 a year. That may appeal to his base and may even generate slightly more revenue, but it will also mean over 700,000 fewer jobs for American workers."
Along with Fleischmann, 4th District Rep. Scott DesJarlais said Friday that despite the talk surrounding revenue increases, he wanted to see more attention given to reductions in federal spending.
Still, the congressman said that an overhaul of the nation's tax code would help to solve the issue.
"Something that has been overlooked for way too long is an overhaul of our tax code in general," DesJarlais said. "I don't think raising taxes is going to solve the problem when there are loopholes that provide a bigger advantage. You can close loopholes that have been out there for a long time that would possibly generate more revenue."
When asked for loopholes he'd like to see put to an end, DesJarlais did not offer any specific examples. The congressman said he had not had a chance to look over a recent proposal from Sen. Bob Corker, which suggested capping itemized tax deductions at $50,000.
"I certainly would be willing to look at his plan," he said.
Both Fleischmann and DesJarlais voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011--better known as the deal to raise the debt ceiling. The measure put in motion the process that led several measures of the "cliff" to be put in place.
At the end of the day, DesJarlais said the prospect of no deal being reached and going over the cliff would not be an outcome that was in the country's best interests.
"I think it would be irresponsible to go over the fiscal cliff," he said. "It would be for political reasons that's just bad politics, and it's not good for people in general."
Fleischmann declined to comment on the possibility.
On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Congress would not adjourn until a "credible solution to the fiscal cliff has been found." The House had been previously scheduled to adjourn Dec. 14.