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McMorris Rodgers: ‘Clock is ticking’ on looming ‘fiscal cliff’

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) on Thursday warned that the “clock is ticking,” but that Republicans were ready to work with President Obama to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

The newly elected chairwoman of the House Republican conference delivered the GOP Thanksgiving Day message, calling the holiday a time to remember “how truly blessed we are” and prepare to address the nation’s challenges.

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“This is certainly a time of testing for our country.  A hard-fought campaign has just come to a close. Far too many Americans remain out of work.  Our national debt exceeds the size of the economy and threatens to derail our children’s future,” said McMorris Rodgers.

“Yet today, we will honor the Thanksgiving tradition with wishes of peace and grace,” she continued. “We’ll pray for those less fortunate.  We’ll think of servicemembers away from home, and give thanks for them and their families.  Our hearts will go out to families still without power after Hurricane Sandy.”

The Washington lawmaker said that in the holiday’s “spirit of service and optimism” Republicans were reaching out to President Obama “in the hope of working together to help our economy grow and solve the debt that threatens our children’s future.”

She expressed hope that lawmakers and the White House could craft a deal to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff.”

“Republicans believe this is an opportunity to finally solve problems that Washington has ignored for too long, whether it’s a tax code that’s too costly and complicated or entitlement programs that are on the path to bankruptcy,” said McMorris Rodgers. “No more short-term band-aids or shopworn excuses.  We can do this right.

“Republicans are ready and eager to get to work, and we hope President Obama is as well,” she added.

Lawmakers and the president will begin negotiations on a deficit-reduction package to address the combination of tax rate increases and automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year and which economists fear could spark a new recession.

Republicans and the president though are split on taxes, with Obama and Democrats saying they will insist on raising tax rates for those families making above $250,000 a year.

GOP lawmakers say they are open to new revenues in the package from eliminating loopholes and deductions, but that raising tax rates would only harm the economy.

“At a time of so much economic suffering, raising taxes would have a devastating impact on small businesses and our economy,” said McMorris Rodgers, in her address. “We can’t let this happen.”

In closing, McMorris Rodgers said she hoped Americans would celebrate the holiday “with a determined spirit and a hopeful heart.”

“Americans still have so many ‘gracious gifts ‘for which to be thankful,” she said.