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Some lawmakers seem willing to let U.S. dive off fiscal cliff

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 6:56 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A small and potentially influential group of lawmakers in both parties is emerging as fiscal-cliff skeptics, willing to take the dive. Their attitude may make striking a compromise a messy and drawn-out process.

Patty Murray of Washington, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said her side is willing to push the debate into 2013 if Republicans refuse to raise taxes on high earners.

“No one wants to go off any cliff or hill or slope; there is a responsible way to resolve this,” Murray said on MSNBC. “But if we take a bad deal and say that all of the nation's fiscal problems are to be balanced on the back of middle-class families and the wealthy don't participate, that's a bad deal that we cannot and should not live with.”

Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, a Republican aligned with the small-government Tea Party who lost his re-election bid this month, said: “Doing what's right over the next couple weeks is more important than doing something that would harm our economy in the name of meeting a silly deadline.”

“You're going to see a calculation on the part of many Republican members about whether going over the cliff is worse than a bad deal,” said Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation. “Congress is very sensitive to the gyrations of Wall Street, and as we get closer to the cliff, if Wall Street starts panicking, we will start to see them putting their noses to the grindstone to get something done, even if it's not very good. If that's the case, why not go over the cliff, make the president own it, and then the fight continues next year?”

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