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Obama's big test: breaking Congressional gridlock to avert "fiscal cliff" (2)

By Matthew Rusling (Xinhua)

16:22, November 29, 2012

"The real issue about gridlock is going to be based on how he (Obama) handles this fiscal cliff," he continued, "I think he should tell the American people 'this is very serious business... and I'm going to spend as much time as I can with the members of Congress'. He's also got to reach out and build on his relationship with (House Speaker) John Boehner."

For its part, the White House maintains that Congressional Republicans have time and again refused to compromise on virtually every issue, which has stalled Congress.

Speaking on the same panel, Phillip Wallach, a research fellow at the Brookings Institute, said compromise will not be easy as neither side will get everything they want and each will have to give up something.

"Moving from 3 percent to 2 percent GDP growth every year means we have to temper some expectations about what we can afford," he said, "So to make this big deal work realistically it's going to take both sides understanding that they're not going to get everything they want. And that's going to take leadership on both sides."

Still, there are some bright spots on the horizon, Wallach said.

"The president has said a lot of encouraging things... and it will take him standing up to his party and House Speaker Boehner standing up to his party," and accepting a deal, he said.

On the Republican side, the Tea Party caucus, known to take a my-way-or-the-highway approach, comprises only 68 members which is a minority. That could make it easier for Boehner to come to the negotiating table, Elaine Kamarck, lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School, told the panel.

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