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Lawmakers searching for common ground to avoid fiscal cliff

There’s bipartisan agreement across Washington D.C.

There’s bipartisan agreement across Washington D.C. that sequestration, the more than $500 billion in automatic spend cuts and tax hikes triggered by failure to reach a budget deal, would be devastating to the economy if allowed to take effect—but that seems to be where the agreement ends.

In an interview on The Daily Rundown on Monday, two former Capitol Hill insiders had different outlooks on the possibility of getting a grand bargain done.

“We’ve got less than two months to go, a couple of holidays coming up, [the] House and Senate just coming back this week, the answer to [if we can get a deal done] I think is no,” said Jim Manley former Senior Communications adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “The question is what exactly can be done short-term while looking at a long-term agreement.”

On the other side of the spectrum, former Communications Director to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was more optimistic.

“The impetus is there for both sides to get a deal done. I’m confident that something can happen because if you look at all the pieces, it can be negotiated very easily,” said Brad Dayspring.

The pieces that need to be negotiated to reach a grand bargain are complex although some suggest that the fundamentals for a deal are there.

For Republicans, the sticking point seems to be raising revenue outside of  limiting tax deductions and loopholes. For Democrats, the issue of how entitlements are reformed provides a major road block.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican member of the so-called Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of Senators who tried to reach a compromise in 2011, pushed back on the notion of raising tax rates over the weekend.

“There's a right way to do this, and there's a wrong way to do it. And Speaker Boehner was absolutely correct that you do have to have revenues on the table, but that does not mean raising taxes,” said Sen. Chambliss on Fox News Sunday.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a member of the failed Super Committee, suggested that Republicans may face a worse deal come January 1.

“We will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire, and we'll start over next year, and whatever we do, will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together,” said Sen. Murray.

However, one influential Republican seemed open to raising tax rates. Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard pushed his party to be open to raising revenue.

"You know what? It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won't, I don't think,” Kristol said. “Really, the Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood?"