Time for deal-making is short, thanks to the holiday and congressional calendars. Some key dates for averting the fiscal cliff:
• Lawmakers aren’t expected to return to the Capitol until after Christmas, leaving less than a week to vote on a compromise before year’s end.
• Obama and his family also were leaving town for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The president said because the fiscal cliff was still unresolved, he would return to Washington next week.
• If lawmakers reach Dec. 31 without a deal, some economists worry that the financial markets might swoon.
• The current Congress is in session only through noon Eastern time on Jan. 3. After that, a newly elected Congress with 13 new senators and 82 new House members would inherit the problem.