With President Obama and House Republicans claiming dueling mandates from the election, it is hard to see how they will reach a deal averting the fiscal cliff with negotiations constrained to tax rates and spending. Our leaders need to think outside the box to strike a deal and save the economy.

The GOP wants to stop $55 billion in defense cuts while the Democrats want to stop $55 billion in domestic cuts. Since we do need to cut spending, why not slice these figures in half, leading to more manageable $28 billion reductions? Next, Mr. Obama should accept an extension of all Bush-era tax rates, including those for the wealthiest Americans, to give both sides a full year to pass meaningful tax reform. In exchange, the GOP should agree to a framework on immigration reform whereby the border is secured and undocumented immigrants who have been here 10 years or more get full legal resident status, with their children achieving citizenship in exchange for military service.

Passing this comprehensive bill gets the Republicans a big win on taxes while Mr. Obama can claim victory on immigration reform. It would also provide a down payment on the deficit through realistic spending cuts while giving Washington all of 2013 to reform entitlements and the tax code. 

Scott Ruesterholz, Washington