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Senators Hope To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

November 9, 2012, 9:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Senators Hope To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

President Barack Obama says he is willing to compromise to avoid the looming fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

The president gave his first post-election remarks Friday about the tax increases and billions of dollars in budget cuts that are set to take place on January 1, commonly called the fiscal cliff.

President Obama is inviting Congressional leaders to the White House next week to start working on ways to avoid the cliff.

“I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas,” Obama said Friday.

Both of South Dakota's U.S. Senators say Congress will find a way to avoid problems at the end of the year.

"But I don't think we'll fall off the cliff," Senator Tim Johnson said.

"Something has to happen. We cannot afford to go over the fiscal cliff," Senator John Thune said.

Just this week the Congressional Budget Office said allowing the billions of dollars in federal budget cuts and tax increases to take affect at the end of the year could send the country into another recession.

Senator Johnson says that's not an option.

"It would be catastrophic for us to fall off the cliff," Johnson said.

President Obama says he's willing to compromise and Speaker of the House John Boehner said this week that Republicans are willing too.

What Obama says he is not willing to compromise on is allowing tax breaks to continue for higher-paid Americans.

Republicans, including Senator Thune, disagree with that idea and want more comprehensive tax reform.

"I think it would be a mistake to raise taxes starting January 1 on the people who create jobs when you’ve got a really weak economy. What the president is proposing would raise taxes on almost one million small businesses in this country who employ 25 percent of America’s workforce," Thune said.

But no matter which side of the aisle South Dakota's Senators are on, they are both optimistic Congress will come together to avoid the cliff.

"We should get together as Republicans and Democrats and Independents and get this problem solved," Johnson said.

"There's a way I think we can do this. We look forward to hearing from the President and sitting down with him," Thune said.

And Friday the President said he's willing to sit down with members of Congress as well.

Thune believes if a long-term deal isn't hammered out before the end of the year a short-term measure could be passed to avoid the fiscal cliff.

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