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Dems, GOP make overtures on fiscal cliff

Nov. 25, 2012 at 1:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Two senior U.S. senators said Congress was ready to buckle down this week and find an agreement that will avert the dreaded fiscal cliff.

Volatile issues of tax hikes and entitlement reform continue to be daunting obstacles to a deal and both Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told ABC's "This Week" the stands of both parties on those issues needed to be considered.

"With Congress gone for the Thanksgiving recess, there hasn't much progress made," said Durbin. "But tomorrow there's no excuse. We're back in town."

Durbin noted the recent rally in the stock market was fueled in part by pre-Thanksgiving consumer spending, but added the odds of reaching a deal on the fiscal cliff and the associated sequestration plan was also reason for optimism about the economy.

"We can solve this problem," Durbin said.

Graham said Republicans were willing to be flexible about increased revenues provided Democrats bend on entitlements. He said the GOP was primarily concerned about the Draconian cuts the military would face under sequestration if a deal is not reached.

Graham indicated the staunch stand on taxes championed by anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist might not be tenable with the Pentagon cuts at stake. "What I would say to Grover Norquist is that sequester destroys the United States military," he said.

Graham noted the key to the negotiations would be reform of the entitlement system in the United States and not pledges to reduce spending. "I just don't want to promise the spending cuts," he said. "I want entitlement reforms. Republicans always put revenue on the table and Democrats always promise to cut spending. Well, we never cut spending."

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