While the experts carried the discussion, members did take the time to reiterate party talking points on the cliff. Casey, the committee chair, stressed the need to lower taxes on middle-class Americans while letting them rise for the wealthiest taxpayers. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas blasted the president's plan as out of balance, with too much in revenue and not enough in spending cuts.
After the hearing, Casey acknowledged the White House's proposal, by both economists' estimation, requires more spending cuts with respect to revenues, but he said the coming weeks will bring more ideas from both sides.
"I think you're going to see a lot of different proposals back and forth," said Casey. Ultimately, though, he said he is confident lawmakers have enough in common that they can come to agreement by the end of the year.
"I think both sides understand the gravity of the problem," he said.
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Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter @titonka or via E-mail at email@example.com.