Fiscal Cliff: The Cast of Characters

House Conservatives as Chorus - The drama will happen between Obama and Boehner, but we can view the frettings and (possibly) concessions of conservative House Republicans as meaningful (if homogenous) commentary on the deal. If Boehner overestimates his ability to pass another "grand bargain"-esque deal and remain speaker, conservative House Republicans will sing of his downfall.

Ousted Representatives as the Wildcards - Twenty-six House incumbents lost re-election in 2012 -- 10 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Throw in a small handful who abandoned their seats to run for the Senate, and a not insignificant chunk of House members won't be returning next year. Who knows what they'll do? The Republicans may not feel so beholden to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge; the Democrats may not feel as beholden to progressive interest groups. For instance, ousted Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., is entertaining Rep. Tom Cole's suggestion to pass middle-class tax extenders as Obama has requested. Then again, none of them will have to clean up the mess if America goes off the cliff, so maybe the lame ducks will have less incentive to reach a deal.

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