WASHINGTON AND PHOENIX -- With the "fiscal cliff" clock winding down, President Barack Obama will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Friday.
The last-minute gathering will apparently attempt to reach a compromise to avoid year-end across-the-board tax increases and deep spending cuts. Word of the meeting came after the president returned early from a family vacation in Hawaii.
While there is no guarantee of a compromise, Republicans and Democrats said privately elements of any agreement would likely include an extension of middle class tax cuts with increased rates at upper incomes as well as cancellation of the scheduled spending cuts.
"I've got a little hope, or they wouldn't be calling us back. I believe we will be voting on something," Mesa Republican Representative, and Senator-elect, Jeff Flake told 3TV Thursday night.
"We want to protect lower tax rates for as many people as we can. That's my goal. And then we've got to deal with the spending issue moving ahead. That's going to be my focus as we head into the new year," Flake said.
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center says the average middle class family should expect to pay an additional $2,000 per year in taxes, if the talks completely breakdown.
Flake predicts lawmakers will be able to reach a deal either before the "fiscal cliff" deadline, or within the first week of the new Congress.
Still, U.S. consumers peering over the "fiscal cliff" don't like what they see.
Fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week sent consumer confidence tumbling in December to its lowest level since August.
The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell for the second straight month in December to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November.
The survey showed consumers' outlook for the next six months deteriorated to its lowest level since 2011 -- a signal to Lynn Franco, the board's director of economic indicators, that consumers are worried about the tax hikes and spending cuts that take effect Jan. 1 if the White House and Congress can't reach a budget deal.