Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's elections, the current Congress and the current president are tasked with handling the looming "fiscal cliff" before the end of the year. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he's not holding his breath for large comprehensive fiscal reform but suggests that a short-term "bridge" is likely.
Boehner said a lame duck Congress "probably shouldn't do big things," telling CNN that "the best you can hope for is a bridge.
"I would think that would be the best you can hope for, and even that is going to be very difficult to do," he said.
Congress is set to come back into session next week to deal with unfinished business, including the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year and $1.2 trillion of automatic cuts to defense and non-defense programs to go into effect in January. Economists say the sudden jolt in fiscal spending and taxes will have a devastating impact on the economy.
In a separate interview with National Journal, Boehner said the House has already "done its job" by passing a bill to implement alternative cuts to avoid the sequester and to extend the tax cuts. "It's sitting over in the Senate. You know, at some point, the Senate can't just keep ducking and hiding. The Senate's got to produce something. I guess we'll have to see what they're able to produce," he said.
"I think it's important that we avoid the fiscal cliff, but that doesn't mean I'm interested in raising tax rates and killing jobs," Boehner said while on a two-day swing for Mitt Romney through his home state of Ohio.
"There isn't a whole lot of time," he said, suggesting a stop-gap measure is the best option before the new year because he said it would be difficult to retroactively accommodate alterations to the tax code. However, he didn't shun the idea of dealing with the issue wholesale when a new Congress convenes in January.
"If we're going to go solve this problem, let's go solve it. If we're going to rip the Band-aid off, let's rip it off," Boehner said.