The region's lawmakers are painfully aware that the "fiscal cliff" looms, and like much of the rest of the nation are hoping some resolution to the U.S. government's overwhelming $16 trillion debt is found.
Not surprisingly, U.S. Reps. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard, and Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, appear to be on the same page as the rest of their conservative brethren in Congress about ways to resolve the crisis.
"I think we are closer than what we were," Thompson said at mid-week.
The lawmaker said as far as he's concerned, everything should be on the table with regard to spending cuts.
In other words, there are no sacred cows, including possible cuts to defense.
"I want our military to be the mightiest fighting force on the Earth, but I know there are areas of wasteful spending we can cut," he said.
Marino said it comes down to the simple approach of cutting spending and reforming the current tax code.
Marino and Thompson both signed the Grover Norquist Tax Protection Pledge guaranteeing they would oppose tax increases.
Are they both willing to give a little on that promise?
"No. Not at this point," said Thompson. "I didn't sign it to keep from raising taxes, but to show that raising taxes doesn't solve the problem. The federal government has an addiction to spending."
Marino said he signed the pledge two years ago.
"I signed nothing that said I will not do it forever," he said. (But) Before I do that, the Democrats have to be willing to make cuts."
Without spending cuts, the fiscal crisis will never be resolved, he said.
Thompson and Marino represent just two votes from among
435 members of a mostly Republican House.
During the past two years, GOP House members have not been on the same page with President Obama and Senate Democrats.
Is there any reason to believe that will change or will Congress find a way to reach a compromise to avoid the "fiscal cliff?"
"My guess is there is a lot more substance going on behind closed doors," said Dr. Jonathan Williamson, assistant professor of political science at Lycoming College and chairman of the school's Political Science Department. "Whether it's productive or not is hard to know. We had a status quo election. It's the same two sides squaring off against each other."
Williamson said there seems to be some indication that each side will give ground.
Marino said he thought the two sides are not getting closer to a compromise, but that's no reason to give up.
"It's a process. What I have found in my four years in office is that big things (in Congress) are last-minute resolutions," Thompson said. "That's the track we are on now. We will be in here the week leading up to Christmas. We know we have over a $16 trillion debt. That is something accumulated by presidents of both parties and by past Congresses. We can't do it by just cutting spending. We will also take measures to raise revenue."
Thompson said those additional revenues can be found through simplifying the tax code and eliminating the loopholes.
Marino agreed, but said it would have to be done over time.
"We have to eliminate the tax code as we know it and introduce a flat tax," he said.
Thompson said he's against raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Many people who earn more than $250,000, he noted, are small business owners who would be forced to lay off workers.
As for the nation's biggest wage earners, many of them have the best tax attorneys who can help them shield their earnings from taxes.
"I would project most of those people would never pay another extra dollar of taxes," he said. "We have an overly-complex tax code. Let's simplify the tax code. We could do that and lower marginal rates. That could stimulate the economy."
The middle class, particularly those looking forward to collecting Medicare and Social Security, are paying close attention to what is transpiring in Washington this month.
Thompson said he'd consider raising the age by two years to 67 for when people could go on Medicare, but with some provisions.
"The reality is that we are living a lot longer. Most people statistically aren't retiring at age 65," he said.
Nothing should change for people already on Medicare, Thompson added.
The reality, he said, is that Medicare, along with Medicaid and Social Security, comprise some 60 percent of the federal budget.
Medicare, for example, is expected to pay out more in benefits than it pays by the year 2023.
"That is a path to insolvency," he said. "We either deal with those issues now or put our head in the sand like the president," he said.
Marino said raising the age for Medicare poses lots of questions.
"It's something I'm still looking at," he said.
He suggested that the Medicare age could be adjusted depending on one's occupation.
For example, laborers in physically demanding jobs, are perhaps ready to retire earlier than a white -collar person with a desk job, he said.
Such questions are at the crux of the debate between the two sides deciding the fiscal crisis.
"We want more in America, but are we willing to pay for it?" asked Williamson.
Marino said the federal government simply has a spending problem.
He went as far as accusing Democrats in Congress of having a kind of death wish.
"Democrats want to go off the 'fiscal cliff.' It's a plan to place blame on House Republicans. It's a way to gain back the House in two years," he said.
That would result in inflation, a lowering of the dollar and rising unemployment, according to Marino.
China would then surpass the U.S. as the world's financial power.
"In all the chaos, China is just sitting back, waiting and waiting," he said.