BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. - The federal government is open, the nation is paying its bills, and lawmakers have less than 2 months to come up with a tax and spending plan for the next ten years.
Possible? Depends who you ask. A bi-partisan group will immediately start looking for what's known in Washington as the "grand bargain."
"We've gotten a little bit better on our fiscal situation and so hopefully that will prevail in December, and any time people sit across the table from each other I think you can get good resolve," U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican, told KARE 11.
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar rushed back to her home state following the debate resolution to meet with members of the trucking industry. She was part of a bi-partisan group credited for the most recent agreement that kept the nation paying its bills.
Senator Klobuchar says a grand bargain is within reach, citing work that's already been done by the President, the Speaker of the House, the gang of six, the gang of eight, and two different debt commissions.
"So it's not like we're starting from scratch here. People know what the pressure points are but they also know there are about 80% of things that people can agree on," Klobuchar told reporters.
She also noted the looming sequester cuts in January that will affect medical research, Head Start, and military spending will be a factor in pushing lawmakers forward. Plus, she says, "We have an American public that has just said I've had it."
Part of this discussion will be centered on revenue and taxes, which has stalled many negotiations over the past few years.
KARE 11 asked former Vice President Walter Mondale about the possibility of a grand bargain in the coming weeks. He was hopeful. "I think you have to say there is a possibility, but it's a tough chore. Tough, tough, it's a high hill, but possible," he said.
Well known Washington-watcher and political science writer Norm Ornstein, a Minnesota native, was both concerned and cautiously optimistic. "It's very unlikely we're going to see a grand bargain. If we couldn't get it with a super committee that had more power and more impetus, it's hard to imagine that a simple budget conference will make it happen,' he explained.
But then Ornstein continued. "That's not to say we can't get a mini-bargain that may not have a larger sweep and we may not need a grand bargain. Remember, we've actually had two and a half trillion dollars in deficit reduction since Obama took over. So another sizeable step can make a big difference here," he concluded.
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