General Electric Chairman Jeff Immelt on Wednesday warned Washington against diving over the "fiscal cliff," telling CNBC that the issue was a needless "distraction" at the wrong time.
Immelt insisted that Congress and the president — whether it's Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — needed to collaborate to resolve the problem to avoid a potentially debilitating mix of tax hikes and spending cuts could hit the U.S. economy early next year.
"There's no reason why this can't get resolved," Immelt said, adding that the economy's trend was positive, albeit with some volatility.
However, the fiscal cliff (learn more) could alter that dramatically. Immelt said businesses need to be prepared, but added that "I don't get why we can't do something this important."
The GE CEO spoke highly about the Simpson-Bowles blueprint for reforming the federal budget, insisting that an eventual solution should closely resemble the plan.
"If [the fiscal cliff] does happen, that's a failure of governance, and that's something we shouldn't expect," Immelt said.
(Read More: 'I'm Quite Concerned About Fiscal Cliff': Greenspan.)
Appearing with Immelt on CNBC, billionaire investor Warren Buffett joked that "there will be a march on Washington by business, or something akin to it" if the fiscal cliff isn't averted.
"The American people won't stand for it not getting done," Buffett said, adding that there was "a very fair chance we go over [the fiscal cliff] for a short period of time, but who knows?"
"How long they want to be in the sandbox before they come up with an answer that's obvious" is key to tackling the problem, Buffett added. "It depends on the personalities of the leaders of the House and Senate and the president."
General Electric is the minority owner of NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.