Stalling fiscal cliff talks set the stage for a New Year's Eve showdown

Posted at: 12/31/2012 4:21 AM

Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end "fiscal cliff" were still in disarray as lawmakers returned to the Capitol.

Taxes on the wealthy and Republican demands for budget cuts to pay for Democratic spending proposals were separating the two parties as the deadline for avoiding the "fiscal cliff" has drawn to within hours.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke late Sunday with Vice President Joe Biden, in hopes of settling remaining differences.

That followed weekend bargaining between McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that left many issues unresolved.
Unless an agreement is reached and approved by Congress by midnight Monday, more than $500 billion in 2013 tax increases will begin to take effect, and more than $100 billion will be carved from defense and domestic programs.

Economists warn that the combined impact of those changes, or the so-called fiscal cliff, could rekindle a recession.