The lame duck Congress gets back to work today. Just 36 days before we reach the fiscal cliff.
There was some give this weekend, however, from some Republicans, who say they'd be willing to go back on a pledge they made to never raise taxes, if Democrats would consider making changes to entitlement programs as well.
You're going to see and hear the name Grover Norquist around this story. Back in 1986, he came up with a pledge that, according to the "Americans for Tax Reform" website, is all but a requirement for Republicans running for office to sign. By agreeing to 'The Taxpayer Protection Pledge,' candidates say they will "oppose any and all tax increases."
The problem is, if all the candidates who made that pledge stick to it, we would almost certainly plunge over the fiscal cliff.
So some Republicans are saying they'll go back on their word and break the pledge, but only if reforms to things like Social Security and Medicare are also on the table.
Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, along with New York Rep. Peter King, say they would break the pledge (with one exception, no increase in taxes for people making over $250,000 a year) in order to get a deal worked out.
One reason for their shift in convictions may be the public's perception that Republicans are causing the roadblock preventing a deal. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 45% of Americans polled say the Republicans would be to blame if the fiscal cliff provisions go into effect next year; 34% would blame President Obama.
Severe tax hikes and spending cuts will automatically kick in if we don't find a way to reverse course away from the fiscal cliff. Some say if we go over at the end of the year, the United States could fall into a recession.