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An enumeration of the five most plausible scenarios for the outcome of the fiscal cliff crisis.
President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders are finally prepared to open negotiations this week on the fiscal cliff — an all-important legislative riddle with no easy answers.
Democrats want to increase tax rates; Republicans say no way. Republicans seek major changes to entitlement programs; Democrats are divided. Republicans want to nullify a package of automatic spending cuts; Democrats won't go for it without major concessions.
The policy differences are endless, but the scenarios for how it could play out are fairly limited. Here are five ways Congress may navigate the labyrinth: