(USA TODAY) -- Some things never change: Negotiations in Washington always go down to the last minute.
it is with the so-called "fiscal cliff," the series of tax hikes and
budget cuts that take effect next year if the White House and Congress
are unable to reach a debt reduction deal.
And next year is a little more than a week away.
President Obama and Congress taking a Christmas break -- amid the stops
and starts of recent weeks -- it looks like they will need every
possible hour to avoid going over the cliff on Jan. 1.
"I told my
colleagues they're just doing it to make sure that those of us who are
retiring this year work every last day of our term," said Sen. Joe
Lieberman, I-Conn., on CNN's State of the Union.
He added: "We're going to spend New Year's Eve here, I believe."
It wouldn't shock us.
the year running out, more lawmakers question whether they agree on a
big deal to reduce the nation's $16 trillion-plus debt, or a smaller one
to get past the fiscal cliff.
"It is going to be a patch because in four days we can't solve everything," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex.
Obama, meanwhile, may monitor events from Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family.
the government goes over the cliff on Jan. 1, Obama and Congress can
also pass retroactive legislation to deal with the automatic tax hikes.
way it works, it adds up to a busy post-Christmas season for Obama and
Congress -- in the latter case until Jan. 3, when a new Congress is