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Texas Senators Hope To Avoid Going Over Fiscal Cliff

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – In one of their final joint appearances, Texas Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn said they hope to avoid going over the so-called “fiscal cliff”. The pair made their statements on Monday before 1,000 members of the Dallas Citizens Council.

With three weeks left before the January 1 deadline, when steep spending cuts begin and the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone, retiring Senator Hutchison expressed optimism. “I do think we will come to an agreement.”

To avoid going over the cliff, President Obama proposed raising $1.6 trillion over 10 years, by allowing the Bush tax cuts on upper incomes to expire at the end of the month.

The plan proposed by House Speaker John Boehner would raise $800 billion over the same period by reducing or eliminating tax deductions for the wealthy.

While the President’s plan includes spending increases, Boehner’s plan includes slashing $1.4 trillion, in part by limiting increases in Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 67.

Today, President Obama went to an auto plant near Detroit, Michigan to press his case. Mr. Obama told the crowd, “I want us to bring down our deficits, but I want to do it in a balanced, responsible way.”

But Senator Cornyn says the President’s promise to raise taxes now and reform entitlements later won’t work. Mr. Cornyn said, “I don’t think that can happen.  We need to cut spending now and not just promises in the future, which miraculously never seem to happen.”

Senator Hutchison indicated while a fiscal crisis will likely be averted in the short-term, it wouldn’t address the long-term yet. “I think this is our best chance to take us through into next year that hopefully the real work will be done next year,” she said.

Both senators say they’re encouraged by direct negotiations over the weekend between President Obama and Speaker Boehner, but CBS News reports little progress was made.

During the luncheon in Dallas, attendees in the Dallas ballroom gave Senator Hutchison a standing ovation for her 19 years as a senator. The Dallas Citizens Council also put together a video tribute from a variety of business and civic leaders.

Among those who congratulated Hutchison and welcomed her home to Dallas, was former President George W. Bush — who also lives in the city.

The former President said, “Kay, I appreciate your long service to the State of Texas and to the United States of America.  You brought dignity to the offices you held, and you come home, and we’re happy to have you here.”

So what’s next for Senator Hutchison when she leaves office next month? She says ethics rules don’t allow her to make commitments yet, but she said she hopes to practice some law, do some public speaking, and sit on corporate boards.

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