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KCBS In Depth: What Are The Odds Of A Fiscal Cliff Compromise?

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July 31: Just before the nation almost defaulted on its debt, President Obama and Congress worked out a deal to raise the debt limit. The plan called for lower spending without raising taxes. Another result of the debates created the “Super Committee,” a panel of six members from the House of Representatives and six from the Senate, whose goal was to reduce the budget by $1.5 trillion. The committee failed to reach an agreement in late November. (Photo credit by  Roger L. Wollenberg/Getty Images)

July 31: Just before the nation almost defaulted on its debt, President Obama and Congress worked out a deal to raise the debt limit. The plan called for lower spending without raising taxes. Another result of the debates created the “Super Committee,” a panel of six members from the House of Representatives and six from the Senate, whose goal was to reduce the budget by $1.5 trillion. The committee failed to reach an agreement in late November. (Photo credit by Roger L. Wollenberg/Getty Images)

(KCBS) – Last week marked the first post-election meeting between Pres. Obama and Congressional leaders to discuss the Fiscal Cliff, and its outcome was described by participants as constructive. But is that indicative of a looming deal? Or are we still on the edge of the cliff?

In short, plenty of Americans are wondering – will a sweeping and final agreement be hammered out on how to restore the nation’s fiscal sustainability before the end of 2012?

“This is a lame duck Congress. It’s a Congress that has very little incentive, Democrats or Republicans, to reach a deal,” warned Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor.

Still, Reich suggested there are ways to avoid the full effect of the Fiscal Cliff, even without a grand bargain to address the Bush-era tax cuts and the devastating trigger cuts of various social services programs.

Reich likens it to a “mini deal.”

“By mini-deal, what I mean is basically kicking the can down the road, keeping all of the Bush tax cuts in place and also keeping all of the spending in place until maybe the end of January, maybe the middle of March, and that gives time to a new Congress and the administration to come up with a grand bargain,” suggested Reich. “And also avoid the Fiscal Cliff.”

KCBS In Depth:

“Democrats,” he continued, “will push very hard and push the Obama Administration very hard to stick to the key issue over which Democrats were victorious in the election and that is raising top tax rates on the wealthy.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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