Sen. Lieberman: ‘Not a certainty’ lawmakers will reach 'fiscal cliff' deal

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Sunday cautioned that despite optimism that lawmakers will reach a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” a solution was “not a certainty.”

“Let me just join in the general hopefulness that we're going to avoid the fiscal cliff. But it's not a done deal and it's not a certainty,” said Lieberman on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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The Connecticut independent, who is retiring after this year warned that Washington was on “automatic pilot” as it neared the cliff, the combination of tax rate rises and automatic spending cuts economists warn can plunge the nation into a new recession.

“The country is, the government is on automatic pilot to the fiscal cliff, to massive tax increases and really to the horrible, uh, spending cuts on January 1st unless we act,” said Lieberman. “So if Congress does nothing, which Congress has gotten pretty good at doing these days, uh, we'll go over the fiscal cliff. 

“There's work to be done and compromises to be reached,” he added.

Lawmakers and the White House will begin negotiations on a deficit-reduction deal to avoid the cliff, but the two parties have yet to bridge their gap over tax rates.

Some Republican lawmakers, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have signaled openness to new revenues through closing loopholes and eliminating deductions, but have said they will oppose raising tax rates.

President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress, though, are insisting on raising taxes on those families that make over $250,000 a year.

Also appearing on CNN with Lieberman, fellow Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said he believed that a short-term fix could be found in the lame-duck session, punting a more permanent solution to next year.

“I think it's likely that there will be a solution that's not a final solution, by any means, not a big solution,” predicted Kyl. But he said such a plan would help Washington get “through the end of the year, into next year, with a plan for trying to deal with these issues long-term, over the course of the next Congress.”


Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) expressed similar optimism that a framework for a larger deal would be in place by year’s end.

“I believe we will come up with a way forward. Do I think we're going to do everything by the end of this year? Probably not,” said Hutchison. “But I think we will not have a fiscal cliff, we will have a plan, hopefully, to go forward. And we will have a blueprint. And we will set the stage for long-term.”

This story was updated at 1:58 p.m