'Fiscal cliff' would hurt Tri-Cities economy - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

'Fiscal cliff' would hurt Tri-Cities economy

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - President Obama met with congressional leaders Friday at the White House to work on a compromise to avoid the looming 'fiscal cliff.' Lawmakers say they're confident they can reach a deal before the end of the year.

If no agreement is reached, massive tax increases and budget cuts would take effect in a matter of weeks. 

Republicans who have been adamantly against tax hikes are willing to talk about increasing revenue and Democrats who have opposed cuts to programs like social security are recognizing they'll have to give a little, too.

"Most economists have said if this is allowed to happen it will cause our national economy to go back into recession," said Tridec President and CEO Carl Adrian.

Locally, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding would be cut. Namely, at Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"If you just do some raw numbers and say the number of employees at Hanford is about 10,000 so divide that by the budget and those kinds of things. We could see several thousand people being laid off in the community," Adrian said.

Lawmakers in D.C. said they are confident, though, after Friday's meeting with the President.

"No more let's do it some other time. We're gonna do it now and I think we feel comfortable with each other and this isn't something that we're going to wait until the last day of December to get it done," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"We are serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma. And I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that is right in front of us today," said House Speaker John Boehner.

Adrian said, at this point, there are really three options concerning the fiscal cliff.

"One is to let it happen, the second would be to come to some grand deal that would avoid it and the third would be for congress to just extend that deadline," Adrian said.

He said because of a high federal presence in the Tri-Cities, the local economy would likely take a bigger hit than other communities in the state.