Conrad says bipartisan group of senators are still working to avoid the 'fiscal cliff'

The Senate Budget Committee Chairman said the group has come to a consensus that the deficit needs to be reduced by at least $4 trillion over the next 10 years. Conrad also said the group of bipartisan senators are using the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission plan as its framework.

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The Simpson-Bowles Commission, ordered by President Obama, released a plan in 2010 that would have both reduced spending and increased revenue — something most Republicans have expressed a disinterest in doing. Earlier this summer, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who co-chaired the supercommittee tasked to reduce the deficit, said she and some other Democrats were willing to let the sequestration cuts happen in January and would also allow the Bush-tax rates for all income earners expire at end of the year if Republicans didn’t agree to increasing taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Republicans criticized that idea as taking the country over the “fiscal cliff.”

Conrad has expressed concern that the fiscal cliff could harm the economy in the near-term. On Monday, he said that the pressure to avoid the fiscal cliff could help prompt lawmakers to take action to avoid the situation by passing a comprehensive plan.

“As we look to avoid the fiscal cliff, it is my hope that we can replace the scheduled arbitrary, across-the-board sequester cuts and tax increases with even more savings from a balanced and comprehensive plan, like the Bowles-Simpson framework, that includes savings from entitlements, including healthcare, and tax reform that raises revenue,” Conrad said. “It is important that we adopt a comprehensive plan now, but that it be phased-in carefully so that the changes don’t worsen the fragile economic recovery.”