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Rep. Charlie Gonzalez On The Fiscal Cliff

U.S. Congress

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is ending a 14-year career in the U.S. House, and he's going out as things are heating up -- the august body is still dealing with the political crisis known as the fiscal cliff. Gonzalez explains why he’s leaving Congress and what his successor, Joaquín Castro, needs to know to deal with the pressures of Washington D.C.


With less than a week left in 2012, the nation is looking down the barrel of the self-imposed political showdown known as the fiscal cliff. Gonzales said that though the spending cuts and tax increases will hurt the country, there is still time to lessen the damage.

"The reality is that depending how long you go over this fiscal cliff -- the duration of the consequences of not meeting spending cuts and raising revenues and the failure to reach an agreement -- that obviously has consequences come the first of January. However, if you act quickly enough -- within 30 days or 60 days -- you minimize the extent of the consequences of the fiscal cliff."

If a deal cannot be reached, then a catalog of budget cuts automatically kick in and tax cuts end, which would raise the tax burden on the nation’s middle class and wealthy. The biggest worry with going over the fiscal cliff is the chance that it will send the nation into another recession.

"The problem with that [going over the fiscal cliff] is that we have now positioned ourselves to say that this is of dire consequence, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Markets are going to react, speculators make money off of situations like this believe it or not, but it brings a lot of instability to our economic markets, international markets and the European union is looking at us. But most of all, this is what I truly believe, it will mark a point in time when people's confidence again will be shaken in the ability of their leaders in Washington to come to terms and make some hard decisions. "

President Obama is negotiating from a position of strength and Republican Speaker John Boehner could not rally support for his own plan within his own party, but there is still time for a deal to be reached.

Gonzalez says it’s looking more and more likely that a grand bargain will not be reached and the fiscal cliff will hit.

Only a few days left

Joaquín Castro steps into the District 20 congressional seat in January, and Gonzalez has learned a few things during his seven terms in Washington D.C.

"I've tried to tell him [Joaquín], you know, these are the dangers of Washington and that's why you come home every weekend, and you really never adopt Washington as your residence. You just work there and you need to be coming back on a regular basis."

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi