TODAY | November 17, 2012
>> john harwood is cnbc's chief correspondent. as we look at this hearing, two parties, two very different takes on that testimony yesterday. is anyone going to be satisfied here?
>> i don't think so. i think this is -- what we're seeing in the petraeus scandal and the benghazi issue being prolonged is an extension of some of the conflict and bitterness that we had during the election campaign . i'm not sure what the resolution of that is going to be. i think ultimately that energy is going to get spent and lawmakers are going to turn to the real crisis that is looming over the american economy , which is the fiscal cliff and the potential that we could go back into recession.
>> there did seem to be positive sentiments out of those meetings with the president and congressional leaders. if we're sticking with the positivity theme here, any sense of a timeline here on something getting done?
>> yes. the leaders were -- and i agree with you, that was as positive an aftermath of a meeting as you could have hoped for, if you were president obama or anyone in the congress. all four leaders, both parties came out and spoke very encouragingly. they're talking about a two-step process. the first step is to outline a framework for tax changes and entitlement changes, spending cuts, and then you're going to have a process in early 2013 where congress fills in the blanks of that framework. leaders also said they hoped to do it, erica, not at the last minute -- you know, congress has the tendency to go right to the brink. they're talking about trying not to go to december 31st and get it resolved sometime fairly soon after thanksgiving. we'll see if they can do it. it's one thing to have a positive meeting. it's another thing to have a framework that the rank and file and both parties can follow.
>> is there a sense that the rank and file in both parties are willing to take a cue from the leaders and work towards this to get it done before the end of the year?
>> reporter: it's always difficult to find followshership in the congress, but there's a greater sense of that before the election that. is why president obama campaigned on these issues during the last 12 months, to try to get some sense of a verdict from the american people . now you can see that he's feeling greater confidence that he's got more leverage, and republicans are a bis chat chacined by the outcome. so john boehner and mitch mcconnell have somewhat more control over their flocks than they did before the election.