Sioux Falls, SD
Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress will meet with top White House officials Thursday hoping to avoid the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff that are set to take affect at the end of the year.
Meanwhile President Barack Obama is hitting the road to push for continuing the middle-class tax cuts while allowing the tax breaks for the wealthy to expire.
"Their voices, the voices of the American people, have to be a part of this debate," Obama said.
United States Senator John Thune says the President needs to lead in the talks to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"It sounds like he is going to go out on the campaign trail this week, which I think is unfortunate. The real challenge right now is here in Washington D.C. and getting a bi-partisan majority of the House and Senate in a place to put in place a solution that would avert what could be a very serious calamity for this country if we go over the fiscal cliff," Thune said.
Republicans want to reform entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security to cut down on government spending.
Thune, who is the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, says Republicans are willing to listen to the Democrats if the Democrats are willing to listen to their ideas.
"We're willing to enter into a discussion about revenues but it's got to be tied to, or accompanied with, entitlement reform that is meaningful and that really does address the real problem facing the country and that's the federal spending side of the equation," Thune said.
With a January 1 deadline looming, Thune thinks a temporary extension could be the way to give Congress more time to work on major changes.
"I would like to see an extension, temporary, for however long that might enable us next year to get into a meaningful debate about entitlement reform and tax reform," Thune said.
And in the next few weeks Americans will find out the answer on just how this latest crisis will be solved.
Thune says it’s possible a new Farm Bill could be tacked onto any legislation involving the fiscal cliff since the Senate version includes more than $20 billion in federal savings.
Thune believes that would be the only way a Farm Bill would get done this year.