Make that 20 days and counting until Washington and the economy are scheduled to go over the "fiscal cliff" and face the double whammy of tax increases and deep spending cuts.
There are quiet negotiations going on between the White House and Speaker John Boehner's office, but the results — at least what's known publicly — apparently remain locked at a tit-for-tat, no-deal stage. Meanwhile, pessimism appears to be creeping up across Capitol Hill. Question is, of course, is the pessimism genuine or public posturing.
There's more public talk scheduled on Wednesday. President Barack Obama holds a conference call with a bipartisan group of mayors and community leaders to discuss the fiscal cliff. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks at the American Enterprise Institute on "National Security, Benghazi, and the Fiscal Cliff;" a group of Republican House members has scheduled a press conference on spending cuts; and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will lead a press conference on taxes and the fiscal cliff.
However, what's going on behind closed doors is probably more important than what's being said publicly.
What's at stake? Many economists say it comes down to a fiscal cliff deal or another recession.
And then there is this: President Obama said Tuesday that his administration now formally recognizes the leading coalition of Syrian rebels who are fighting to topple Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad. There's likely to be buzz in Washington and in the news media Wednesday about what that means and what it signals.