One of America's top economists says Congress needs to do away the debt ceiling law.
Moody's Economist Dr. Mark Zandi told members of the Joint Economic Committee today that only honest tax and spending policies will keep America from the fiscal cliff.
"This is just a really bad way of doing things. We need to get rid of this." he said. "Now having said this, we need budget rules. We need to figure out a way to try and be credible in terms of what we're saying about future tax and spending policy. But this approach, the debt ceiling approach is the wrong way of doing it."
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration is "absolutely" ready for the U.S. economy to go over the fiscal cliff rather than accept a deal that doesn't include higher tax rates for top earners.
As the Washington stalemate continues, Americans across the country are preparing for what could be a very tough new year.
Melinda Yega got the news this week. If Congress and the president can't make a deal, the government will stop her unemployment check. The $450 a week is a lifeline for her family.
"We won't be able to pay some of our bills and for Christmas and things of that nature they're probably off the table," she said.
In North Carolina, Social Security workers are protesting the automatic cuts they face in January if Washington fails to act.
"Employees will face 15 to 40 days of furlough. We are already backlogged at the hearings level," Ryan Gurganious, with American Federation of Government Employees, said.
But Republicans say there's still no offer from Democrats on reforming entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
"What will solve the problem is doing something about the entitlements, taking on the wasteful spending in Washington," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. "We can't just keep borrowing money and raising taxes and expecting the problem to go away. That is our point to the president."
The president did talk by phone with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Wednesday, but there's no immediate plan for negotiations to begin.
While speaking to business leaders yesterday, the president warned Republicans not to inject the threat of government default into an already complex issue.
"That is a bad strategy for America," the president said. "It's a bad strategy for your business and it is not a game that I will play."
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and several other Republicans in both houses have already said they'll support the president's plan to raise tax rates on top income earners.
While it's unclear just how much work remains to make a deal, the president worked Wednesday to allay fears.
"We can probably solve this in about a week. It's not that tough," he said.
The House had originally planned to leave for Christmas break at the end of next week. But now leadership is telling members that their holiday might be cancelled if there's no fiscal cliff deal.