U.S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem leaves for Washington, D.C., this weekend, a little more upbeat about the prospects of a fiscal cliff deal that would avoid massive federal tax increases and spending cuts. Noem will arrive on Capitol Hill Sunday with the clock ticking down to the deadline.
Congressional leaders and President Obama are talking again hoping to prevent the economy from plunging down the fiscal cliff. Noem says she's hopeful that a deal can get done.
"There's always some on the right and on the left that will probably vote no on anything that comes forward. There may be enough representatives in the middle that something could actually get passed and I think that's where the leadership is trying to find that kind of agreement that really will come to some kind of resolution," Noem said.
Taxes remain the biggest obstacle. President Obama wants to raise rates on the wealthiest Americans while Republicans want to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone.
"I've said from the beginning that I'm open to looking at comprehensive tax reform. We need to do that, but honestly, we've got a spending problem in this country, not a taxing problem," Noem said.
Many Americans thought Congress shouldn't have taken a week's vacation with the fiscal cliff hanging in the balance. But Noem defends her decision to come home to South Dakota for Christmas.
"I was more than willing to stay there and continue to work through any process that we could have. The problem that we had was the Senate was leaving; the president was leaving for his Christmas vacation. There's very little we can do sitting by yourself," Noem said.
Many experts say the economy could plummet back into a recession without an agreement. Noem thinks that sense of urgency might finally motivate lawmakers to set aside their differences.
"It's a crazy way to run a country. I think that the process is broken so unfortunately for all the families in South Dakota and the country, but unfortunately that seems to be the way D.C. operates is when there's deadlines; that's really when agreement can be forged," Noem said.
A vote on the fiscal cliff could take place in the House as soon as Sunday evening.
U.S. Senator John Thune said Friday that he also thinks a deal can get worked out, but it's a matter of when.