The cliff refers to tax increases and spending cuts that will kick in at the end of year if Congress does not act. Democrats and Republicans have given no indication that they are prepared to strike a compromise and act soon to steer the government clear of the cliff and have instead used the issue as a political battering ram against each other.
Bernanke was careful to stay out of the partisan debate over what specific tax and spending policies Congress should pursue, limiting his advice to telling lawmakers they simply need do something to improve the deficit outlook.
“I’m not in charge here, Congress is,” Bernanke said.
Meanwhile, the central bank chairman did little to tip his hand on what, if any, action the central bank will take to stimulate the economy.