At least, they had better be here. The December 31 deadline leaves just over four weeks for policymakers to reach an agreement. If not, it is well known that over $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases will trigger as America trips over the fiscal cliff, presumably breaks her hip, and enters what many speculate will be another recession.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama are the chief negotiators in the discussions. Their positions are well established and the points of contention between the two camps have been repeatedly highlighted: Democrats want revenue hikes, some $1.6 trillion in the most recent proposal, and Republicans want spending cuts that are at least in line with revenue hikes.
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The mood surrounding the talks has danced back and forth between positive and negative, and on Friday the mood is negative. Obama is leaving Washington to travel to Hatfield, Pennsylvania, where he will speak at a toy manufacturing facility and try to rouse public support for his proposal — a proposal that was rejected on Thursday by disappointed Republicans….