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Lessons of the fiscal cliff debate

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Lessons of the fiscal cliff debate
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Congress has resolved the question of a "fiscal cliff," at least temporarily. Now, some members of the House from Upstate New York say there were important lessons in this week's battle. YNN's Bill Carey says those lawmakers are saying it's time to find common ground.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two Upstate New York Congressmen. One a Republican, the other a Democrat. Both re-elected after staking out the middle ground, calling for bi-partisan solutions to the nation's problems.

Republican Richard Hanna and Democrat Bill Owens were among the 257 members of the House, from both sides of the aisle who voted for a bill avoiding a plunge off a fiscal cliff.

“Well, I think this is a self-induced crisis. Compromise isn't treason. We needed to get this done,” said Rep. Hanna.

Hanna and Owens, along with neighboring Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, voted in favor of the compromise fiscal bill.

“We have a kind of nice thing going in Upstate New York. I think that that's extremely important. And, I look forward to working with them and expanding that group to get a larger, centrist group that's going to move the country forward,” said Rep. Owens.

“This is time when the people who are thirty and forty degrees left and right of center are going to have a voice. Because the urgency is for solutions, and I think people look at that - and want their representative to be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said Rep. Hanna.

The new legislation resolved tax rate questions, but put off decisions on deficit reduction. Hanna and Owens say Congress should have learned some lessons this week on how to go about compromise and avoid brinksmanship. But, as a new deadline approaches for spending cuts and an increase in the debt ceiling, there is not great optimism those lessons will be put to use.

“Unfortunately, no. It does not appear to me, unless there is a massive change of heart, that people are willing to sit down, look at the facts and reach some rational compromise. It doesn't appear that that's happening,” said Rep. Owens.

“This has come over forty years of everybody getting, basically, what they wanted. Politicians saying yes, because it's so difficult to say no. Well, time's up. Now we have to step up to the plate and lead and be thoughtful about what those things are that we love and how we can cut those programs that we care about,” said Rep. Hanna.

The two Upstaters say there is room for working together.

Syracuse's Republican Congresswoman, Ann Marie Buerkle, did not join her fellow Upstaters in voting for the compromise on the fiscal cliff. Buerkle complained that without more spending cuts and less tax hikes, she could not support the bill. Buerkle's vote was her last as a member of Congress. Her term ends at noon on Thursday.

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