Congress, Obama set to resume 'fiscal cliff' talks
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Congress returns from its week-long Thanksgiving holiday on Monday, as lawmakers and President Barack Obama try to avert a looming fiscal crisis that could send the entire US economy plunging into recession again.
Officials in Washington are hoping to find a way to avoid what has been described as a year-end "fiscal cliff": a convergence of tax hikes and massive spending cuts, including slashes to the military, which some experts say could bring dire economic consequences - possibly sparking another crippling economic slowdown.
Both Republicans and Democrats are well aware of the need for the country to get its fiscal house in order, as America tries to rein in a huge debt that has been growing bigger by the day and reduce deficit spending. After months of stalemate, congressional leaders met on Nov 16 with Mr Obama - who is deemed to have a considerably stronger negotiating hand after handily winning reelection 10 days earlier.
Just five weeks now remain in the calendar year to conclude an agreement before the expiration of tax cuts put in place during the presidency of Mr Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. Mr Obama has said that any deal he concludes would have to include an increase in taxes on wealthy taxpayers, something congressional Republicans so far have rejected.