US Senate leaders work to avoid New Year's 'fiscal cliff'

WASHINGTON - Congressional negotiators burrowed into their Capitol offices on Saturday to see if they can stop the US economy from falling off of a "fiscal cliff" in just three days when the biggest tax increases ever to hit Americans in one shot are scheduled to begin.
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell were expected to work through the day on a possible compromise that would set aside $600 billion in tax increases and across-the-board government spending cuts that are set to kick in next week.
A variety of lower taxes are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. If allowed to rise, the approximately $500 billion value of the revenue increases would represent a historic hike when taken together.
The combined punch of the tax increases and spending cuts would likely put the US economy into a downward spiral, according to economists' forecasts.