Kyl strikes hopeful note on lame-duck grand bargain


Many predict the lame-duck session will be a busy one for the 112th Congress, given that a combination of automatic spending cuts and expirations of lower tax rates are set to take effect at the beginning of 2013. That "fiscal cliff" is viewed as an imminent threat to the U.S. economy, as multiple analyses have predicted allowing all those policies to take effect would push the nation back into a recession.

However, the contentious 112th Congress has struggled to come up with any broad agreements, leading many to expect that members will end up "punting" on a deal, striking a temporary agreement to extend existing policies and pushing the broader debate into 2013.

Regardless of who wins in November, Kyl said Congress could come together in the lame duck and strike a deal, and the divided nature of Congress could provide political cover to both sides.

"For example … you could conform eligibility to Medicare to the same age limits that we have for Social Security," he said. “That would save an enormous amount of money in the future and if we did that neither party would be able to point the finger towards the other party."

Vin Weber, a former congressman and Romney adviser, also said the lame duck provided an opportunity, because he did not expect political tensions to abate in 2013.

"It's almost always an election year in America," he said. "It scares me to think that we would wait unit next year to try and solve this problem."

While Kyl struck a note of hope for bipartisan cooperation, it was evident that there are still substantial political challenges lying in the way. Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayVA chief gave inaccurate information during confirmation on his pro-Confederate ties VA senior adviser forced out amid concerns that he was 'getting paid to sit on his couch': report The Year Ahead: Drug pricing efforts to test bipartisanship MORE (D-Wash.) recently suggested if Congress could not reach a deal on tax rates, Democrats would be willing to  allow the Bush tax rates to expire at the end of the year, then retroactively lower them in 2013 for all but top earners. Kyl called that tactic "political cynicism writ large."

This post updated Aug. 28 at 3:05 pm.