Posted 3 years ago

By Post Staff

Outgoing Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson is not hopeful that Congress will be about to work out a compromise to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff…the combination of automatic spending cuts and ending of tax cuts that will take effect January 1st, likely pushing the economy back into recession.

Republican Senator Mike Johanns thinks there’s a 60-to-70% chance a deal will be done, but Nelson…while hoping he’s right…told Nebraska reporters in a conference call Wednesday he doesn’t see it happening.

“There’s an awful lot of talk,” Nelson said. “But I don’t see much action (and) don’t think there are any real negotiations underway now.”

The fiscal cliff is the result of last year’s Budget Control Act, a compromise passed to increase the debt ceiling that created a “super panel” to come up with a package of billions of dollars in deficit-reduction measures that Congress would have to pass or see sharp automatic spending cuts result.

The plan failed and the two sides have been in a stalemate ever since…Democrats wanting the Bush-era tax cuts retained for the middle class but not for those making over $250,000 a year and with lower levels of spending cuts than sought by the Republicans, who want to keep the tax cuts for everyone.

Nelson told the reporters that the fiscal cliff is a “self-inflicted crisis” that could have been averted 18-months ago and has dropped the public opinion of Congress even lower.

“The hyperpartisanship loud crowd on the outside is yelling that you can’t do this and you can’t do that,” with the resulting standoff and apparent lack of progress between the White House and Congress confessing, “I don’t see how it gets done, quite honestly.”

The intent of the Budget Control Act was to start a workable long-term plan to reduce the federal deficit. Nelson thinks a combination of approaches is needed, but doesn’t think there’s enough time left to do that before hitting the fiscal cliff.

If Congress does…in Nelson’s words “kick it down the road” and put off crafting a long-term overall plan until next year…he hopes what does emerge will be fair to everyone.

While Nelson doesn’t think there’s time in the lame-duck session to put together the framework of a long-term debt-cutting plan, President Obama said Wednesday that he believes it can be done by Christmas, and he urged Americans to pressure their representatives and senators through social media to get the job done.