Republican and Democrats alike say they are doing what the voters back home want.Neither side has a clear advantage in public opinion. In an Associated Press-GfK poll, 43% said they trust the Democrats more to manage the federal budget deficit and 40% preferred the Republicans. There's a similar split on who's more trusted with taxes.
The CountdownTime for deal-making is short, thanks to the holiday and congressional calendars. Some key dates for averting the fiscal cliff:
- Lawmakers aren't expected to return to the Capitol until after Christmas, leaving less than a week to vote on a compromise before year's end.
- Obama and his family also left town for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The president said because the fiscal cliff was still unresolved, he would return to Washington this week.
- If lawmakers reach Dec. 31 without a deal, some economists worry that the financial markets might swoon.
- The current Congress is in session only through noon Eastern time on Jan. 3. After that, a newly elected Congress with 13 new senators and 82 new House members would inherit the problem.