'Cliff' crash in Dec. may clear way for Jan. deal

Charles Babington, Associated Press
'Cliff' crash in Dec. may clear way for Jan. deal

President Barack Obama, accompanied by a U.S. Secret Service agent, waves at reporters shouting questions at him regarding the fiscal cliff as he walks from the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue to Blair House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, to attend a holiday party for the National Security Council. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress may need to go over the so-called fiscal cliff before it can get the votes it needs to resolve the partisan impasse over deficit spending.

Missing the Dec. 31 deadline would change the political dynamics and make it easier for many lawmakers to agree to a second-chance compromise in the new year.

That's especially true for scores of House Republicans who have vowed never to vote to raise tax rates.

Virtually every American's taxes will automatically go up if no accord is reached by Dec. 31. Republicans in the new year could then vote to cut taxes for about 98 percent of Americans.

President Barack Obama could achieve his goal of raising taxes on the richest 2 percent without having to make anyone vote to do it.