It's no secret how badly Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. -- the unofficial ringleader of the Gang of Eight -- wants Congress to prevent the economy from falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.
"I believe grappling with this would do more for economic growth and job creation than quite honestly anything that the president or Gov. Romney are talking about," Warner told the Bipartisan Policy Center on Thursday.
At the forum on financial reform, he laid out a slew of changes he'd like to see made to the Obama administration's prized Dodd-Frank Act, but emphasized that for him, there is no more pressing issue than solving the nation's ticking time bomb of automatic spending cuts and tax increases, which if unaddressed are projected to drag the country back into recession.
To that end Warner, who convened a not-so-secret Gang of Eight retreat in Mount Vernon last week, said that he remains upbeat. He added that he is "all in" on getting it done, but did vent some frustration. "This shouldn't be this hard," he said.
Warner saw a better than 80 percent chance that the cliff would be averted, but he urged lawmakers to agree -- pronto -- on the numbers to be used as the starting point for negotiations.
"A big thing around this is it goes back to the base lines," he said. "This deal could be done tomorrow depending on which baseline you use."