The political and economic ramifications are too big for Washington to let the large tax increases and spending cuts take effect. But this doesn't necessarily mean lawmakers will craft a decisive solution to the nation's fiscal woes.
Lawmakers and the White House keep putting off tough fiscal and political decisions until after the elections, prompting criticism that this is a 'Zombie Congress.'
Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on how much tax hikes should contribute to deficit reduction. The deadline for the super committee to reach a deal is next Wednesday.
The bipartisan deficit 'super committee' is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years. Can it find $450 billion more to fund Obama's jobs plan? Can it find $4 trillion? More?
The task of reining in the national debt lies in the hands of a super committee of 12, which gets down to business now that Congress is returning from its summer break.