The Hill
November 07, 2012

Baucus urges post-election compromise on 'fiscal cliff'

The Senate’s top tax-writer on Wednesday urged Congress to quickly compromise on the so-called "fiscal cliff" in the wake of Tuesday’s election.

“We cannot return to the divided and divisive ways. The American people want Congress to work together to break the gridlock of the past two years,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said.

With Democrats keeping control of the Senate, Baucus is slated to remain the head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He has already been trying to lay groundwork for a deal with House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) who will come back in the new year as well. 

The chairman has been quietly preparing options for dealing with the fiscal cliff and is a champion of overhauling the tax code as part of that effort. It is unclear if a grand bargain on the debt can be done in the coming weeks or if even a framework for one can be found. 

“Now that the election is over, it’s time to stop the brawling and brinkmanship. I encourage everyone — Republicans, Democrats, Independents — to work together to find a solution to the great many challenges we face,” Baucus said.

 Baucus faces reelection in heavily Republican Montana in 2014, so he is under pressure to move to the center and to avoid blame for any economic damage from the $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts coming in January. The cliff will cause a new recession, according to economists. 

On Tuesday, Baucus’s Democratic colleague, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), won his reelection. This prevents Baucus from being politically isolated in his home state, but does raise the prospect of a strong challenge from defeated GOP candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who had tried to unseat Tester. 

“After spending the past month with the folks I work for out in Montana, I know that when Congress returns next week, they want us to shift gears from working on campaigns to working towards compromise,” Baucus said in his statement. 

He said a fiscal cliff deal should “supports jobs, expands opportunity and puts America’s economy back on track.”

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