We're going to turn to the desperate, last-ditch effort to try to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff, sending everybody's taxes up and possibly sending the country into another... See More
We're going to turn to the desperate, last-ditch effort to try to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff, sending everybody's taxes up and possibly sending the country into another recession. It's down to the wire with just three days left. And abc's lisa stark has the latest on the last-minute wheeling and dealing being done in washington. Good morning, lisa. Reporter: Good morning, bianna. Well, the next 24 hours are critical. The president this morning in his radio address, told lawmakers don't let washington politics get in the way of american progress. So, the last-ditch attempt is on the way to putether a deal. And the ball is in the senate's court. There's nothing like a deadline to force action. The president met with congressional leaders friday for the first time in six weeks. Then, proclaimed himself modestly optimistic. But warned -- the american people are watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. Reporter: With the clock running out, here's the game plan. The democratic and republican leaders in the senate will spend day trying to hash out a bipartisan agreement. I'm hopeful and optimistic. Reporter: But if there is no deal, the president wants an up or down vote on measures he thinks can pass. Extending tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less. And continuing unemployment benefits for the millions who will lose them when the new year strikes. That's the bare minimum that we should be able to get done. Reporter: It's clear whatever happens, there is no time, now, for a grand bargain on the even tougher issues. Cutting spending and raising the debt ceiling. We're going to end up with a small, kick-the-can down the road bill, that creates another fiscal cliff to deal with this fiscal cliff. How irresponsible is that? Reporter: And does washington still, the stock market burns. Dropping for a sixth-straight day under this uncertainty. Americans are burning up, too. This is america. They should be working for the american people. Can't believe we got this close. Get in a room and don't come out of the room until you've got this thing taken care of. Reporter: What the senate leaders hope to do is put together this deal, bring it to the senate tomorrow. Then, the house comes back in session tomorrow night. They can vote on any deal passed by the senate. But bianna, no one is holding their breath here in washington. No one is, indeed. For more on the big white house meeting, we want to bring in john avlon, political columnist at "the daily beast." A busy man covering all of this. How do you see this playing out? We're three days out. Nothing focuses than the prospect of being hanged. Today, bianna, is the key day. Saturday, today, the senators are meeting. They're going to try to come up with a bipartisan bill that could pass the house. If it doesn't work, the president has a fallback plan. To say on monday, new year's eve, vote on a plan that would keep taxes low for the middle lass and extend unemployment benefits. That's a distant second choice. Everyone has to be hoping that this working weekend will finally produce results out of washington. You've been watching washington for a long time. Are there grown-ups in the house? Can these guys come to an agreement here? We saw last week, that speaker boehner doesn't control the far right of his caucus. This is the reality check, folks, 98% is agreed upon. 98% of americans shouldn't have their taxes raised. We're being held hostage by debate over the top 2%. That's a partisan divide. Every american stands to see their taxes raised in three days if they can't come to a deal. You agree they will probably come to a small deal. But the bigger issue could happen a couple of months from now, and that that's the debt ceiling. That's kicking the can down the road again. That's right. We're going to be here again. Remember the debt ceiling debacle a year and a half ago. That led to the downgrading of our credit. And the s&p blamed an atmosphere of partisanship. But the ration questions americans have to ask themselves, is if we couldn't get anything done in the lame duck congress, after the election, politicians will be free to reason together. Why should it be any different or any better in a new congress? What does it say about the state of our politics? That these elected officials, manufactured a crisis and can't get themselves out of the box that they constructed? What does it say? It says that we don't have just an ideological divide. We have a crisis of self-government right now. To be real clear about it. This is a time bomb that congress set. Nobody wants to see frustration cuts. But that's the stick they put to their own head as a way of compelling a deal to get done. And a deal doesn't get done. We're noeven aiming for the grand bargain that is necessary to reduce long-term deficits and debt. We're going to get a patch and be here again in two months. Congress can't get out of its own way. We keep setting our own traps. John, we appreciate the clarity, even if it's
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