If the president and congressional leaders are unable to reach an accord by Dec. 31, all Americans will face higher taxes in the new year. At a White House press conference last Friday, Obama expressed confidence that they can successfully negotiate a deal that also will prevent the long-term unemployed from losing benefits.
"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," the president told reporters.
He also warned that "nobody gets 100 percent of what they want."
To raise or not raise taxes continues to be the major sticking point between the two sides, with Obama and Democrats calling to discontinue tax cuts passed under former President George W. Bush for the nation's top money-makers. Republicans are equally opposed to raising taxes at any income level.
Before lawmakers recessed for the holiday, House Speaker John Boehner was forced to cancel a vote to extend tax cuts on households earning $1 million or more because too many Republicans refused to support the measure.
"He was soundly rejected by his party," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Wednesday morning on MSNBC's Jansing & Co. program.
So, who blinks first? Cummings believes that Republicans will, in part because, according to recent polls, Americans believe the rich should pay higher taxes and would blame the GOP if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff.
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(Photo: Kent Nishimura - Pool/Getty Images)