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Sen. Corker optimistic 'there is a deal' to get beyond ‘fiscal cliff'

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) signaled optimism on Sunday that legislators would be able to reach a deficit-reduction plan that would avoid looming tax-rate increases and spending cuts.

Corker, speaking on Fox News Sunday, said he saw the basis of a deal to avoid triggering the "fiscal cliff" of higher taxes and automatic cuts scheduled to go into effect early in 2013, which economists warn could bring on a recession.

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"I think there is a deal. Look the ying and the yang of this is that we know there has to be revenues. And I think, look, I haven't met a wealthy Republican or Democrat in Tennessee that's not willing to contribute more as long as they know we solve the problem," Corker said. 

"So the ying of revenue we understand and I think there's a very good pro-growth way of putting that in place so you're actually getting revenues from me and other folks that make above 'x' dollars. But what you have to have tied to that is true entitlement reform so people know you solve the problem," he added.

Thus far Republicans and Democrats have been unable to reach a longterm compromise on a deficit-reduction plan, but congressional lawmakers will meet with the president this week to begin talks.

Democrats have called for the wealthy to pay higher taxes, while Republicans say they want the expiring George W. Bush-era tax rates extended across-the-board. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled this past week that the GOP was open to new revenues in a deal.

Corker said the "real question" for a deficit reduction deal had to do with entitlement program reform. 

"So there's a way of getting there on the revenue side, the real question is can we come to terms on the entitlement side," Corker said. "By the way when you deal with entitlements you really don't do anything that deals with the economy in the short term."