Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end "fiscal cliff" were still in disarray as lawmakers returned to the Capitol to confront the tax-and-spend crisis.
A tone-setting quotation was Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's assertion that the House under Republican Speaker John Boehner had been "operating with a dictatorship."
President Barack Obama flew back to Washington from Hawaii after telephoning congressional leaders from his Christmas vacation perch. Once back, he set up a meeting with leaders of both parties at the White House late Friday to make a fresh attempt to find a solution before Monday night's deadline.
A look at why it's so hard for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on urgent matters of taxes and spending, and what happens if they fail to meet their deadline: