A “Gang of Eight” Senators have been meeting to prepare a comprehensive budget and tax proposal. Four Democratic and four Republican Senators representing the whole spectrum of the Senate are diligently seeking a solution. Democratic Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are joined by Republican colleagues Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Mike Johanns (R-NE). Immediately after the election, these members of Congress will meet to discuss a potential solution to the “Fiscal Cliff,” which looms if no compromise is reached.

The National Association of Manufacturers recently published a statement, in which it noted, “The fiscal cliff has forced manufacturers to plan for a future in which business is down and their tax bills are up. Manufacturers have had to put off plans to expand and hire new workers to protect themselves against an increasingly negative business climate – resulting in slowing economic growth and job loss in the manufacturing community.”

Although the “Gang of Eight” is attempting to pursue solutions, Senate rules create substantial obstacles to proceeding directly to a completed bill. The Senate Budget Committee and Senate Finance Committee have both been holding hearings and it requires several months to follow the normal Senate process. While moving a bill through the Senate will be challenging, the sheer urgency of the economic picture after the elections on November 6 will encourage prompt action. Hopefully, the “Gang of Eight” solutions will provide a basis for a compromise budget and tax bill.

– Heinz J. Brisske