Politics: The Fiscal Cliff

Washington, D.C. (NBC News) – Today we hear from President Obama for the first time since his re-election. He'll be talking about how America avoids falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Will democrats agree to big spending cuts? Will republicans agree to tax increases?

There's incentive to cooperate. The public's fed up with Washington gridlock. If taxes explode, your paycheck gets smaller and major services go away come January 1, neither party here is going to be very popular.

This afternoon, President Obama is expected to urge Congress to extend the Bush Tax Cuts right away… And cooperate to avoid the fiscal cliff – including big spending cuts at the end of this year. “Everyone is going to have to come the table in the spirit of getting something done,” said Sr. Advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod.

That means democrats may have to take the hatchet to social security and Medicare. “You're gonna have to cut some additional spending,” said Senator Kent Conrad, (D) North Dakota.

And Republicans may have to raise taxes on the wealthy. Conservatives say that's not what House Speaker John Boehner meant this week when he signaled his party's open to creating new revenue. “Boehner's position is exactly what it was a year ago, two years ago, four years ago — don't raise taxes, have pro-economic growth policies. And the government will get more revenue,” said Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform.

BOEHNER ALSO SPEAKS TODAY: “What we're gonna have to watch is whether speaker or president on completely different planets,” said Eamon Javers.

But a temporary truce to avoid the fiscal cliff won't necessarily calm Wall Street. “It will still create a level of uncertainty going forward until everything is finally determined in the new congress,” said Senator Olympia Snowe, (R) Maine.

Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office predicted if Congress doesn't act, unemployment could hit 9.1% next year.

That same C.B.O. report said if the Bush Tax Cuts, the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits are extended, it'll explode the deficit but create 3% growth next year.

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