6. Democrats want jobless benefits in 'cliff' deal
"This is the real cliff," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He's been leading the effort to include another extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed in any deal to avert looming tax increases and massive spending cuts in January.
"Many of these people are struggling to pay mortgages, to provide education for their children," Reed said last week as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected each other's opening offers for a deficit deal.
White House officials have assured Democrats that Obama is committed to extending them another year, at a cost of about $30 billion, as part of an agreement for sidestepping the fiscal cliff and reducing the size of annual increases in the federal debt.
"The White House has made it clear that it wants an extension," said Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.