Fiscal cliff: Will there be a similar fight over the debt ceiling?

By Alex Fees

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The fiscal cliff agreement the House and Senate passed extends tax cuts for all workers earning less than $400,000 a year.

It prevents a tax hike on estates valued at less than $5 million.

And it extends unemployment benefits for some 2 million people.

But many people say our country should not have had to get so close to the edge of the cliff. And they believe elected officials should have learned their lesson.

While our elected officials in Washington avoided higher taxes Armageddon, some people in St. Louis would like those officials to find the nearest fiscal cliff, and jump off.

First District Democratic Congressman William Lacy Clay, Jr., said it is, in part, simply the process of elective government at work.

Clay continued, "Then when we get to a stage like we have reached in the House, where there is total dysfunction, then you hear the people in this country clamor for some kind of change in our governance model."

Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt makes no apologies.

"Absolutely there's a way to do this and not get to that point," said Blunt. "Part of it is, frankly, presidential leadership. Everybody in Congress has seen that new movie, "Lincoln." The message of that movie is when hard things get done the President has to lead to find a solution that people will accept. And the solution that people will accept is almost never the solution that only you want."

Republican Blunt and Democrat Clay were asked if there will be a similar fight over the upcoming debt ceiling.

They both said yes.

Blunt said, "Now if people thought taxes somehow were a tool; us raising taxes, Republicans in the House of Representatives or even Republicans like me in the Senate saying well we're going to raise taxes as part of our strategy... I think the tax increase the President got on the highest percent of income-earners is likely to be the only tax increase he gets for the next year."

Rep. Clay said, "It's almost inevitable that we will have a fight just because the two sides are so far apart. And when you look at what transpired over the past month in the Republican conference and in the House, the majority of those members were adamant about not letting President Obama have any kind of victory."


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