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Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, in an interview on CNN Wednesday, sounded hopeful: “If 25 Republicans put country before party, we won’t go over the fiscal cliff.” Even if there’s no deal, the billionaire investor predicted the impact would be manageable. “[If Congress] can’t get along for the month of January, it’s not going to torpedo the economy.”

But many businessmen and Wall Street investors remain as skeptical — and as worried — as the ratings agencies.

“Avoiding the fiscal cliff will require the kind of political leadership we haven’t seen,” said Reto Gallati, chief investment officer at Raetia Investments. But kicking the can down the road is no longer an option. “The stakes are too high to fail,” he said.