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'Fiscal Cliff' Not As Far Off As Calendar Shows

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  • GOP Proposes New 'Fiscal Cliff' Offer To Obama

    GOP Proposes New 'Fiscal Cliff' Offer To Obama

    Monday, December 3 2012 6:14 PM EST2012-12-03 23:14:16 GMT
    House Republicans negotiating with President Barack Obama on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff are proposing to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and to lower cost-of-living hikes in Social Security benefits.
    House Republicans negotiating with President Barack Obama on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff are proposing to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and to lower cost-of-living hikes in Social Security benefits.

A couple of days after a closed-door meeting between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, both sides remained close-lipped early Tuesday.

The calendar indicates lawmakers have just under three weeks to reach a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," but a closer look at the process reveals a much tighter deadline.

Because of the legislative logistics involved in crafting and passing a bill, the White House and Republicans basically have just this week to get things going. And that adds a layer of extra tension to closed-door negotiations.

The president and house speaker basically need to strike a deal by Wednesday or Thursday of this week, then factor in a couple days to write the legislation and more time for the Congressional Budget Office to tally the deficit reductions.

Because of the spending and tax language, the bill must first begin in the House of Representatives. Those factors alone take the process into next week at best.

Then, the Senate would need to pass the bill, where Republicans oppose tax increases.

And if Democrats get the tax increases, they would likely have to agree to spending cuts, another possible setback.

If the Senate changes the House bill, a conference committee is necessary, adding even more time.

Still, during a campaign-style event Monday, Obama sounded optimistic.

"So, Congress can do that right now. Everybody says they agree with it. Let's get it done," Obama said.

Further complicating matters are the questions of what to do with extending long-term unemployment aid and how to avoid the automatic spending cuts as well as other expiring tax breaks including the payroll tax holiday.

Then, there's the House rule on posting a bill for three days before a vote, Fox's Craig Boswell reports.

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