"Gang of Eight" to meet in attempt to avoid fiscal cliff

(CBS News) If Congress cannot make a budget deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff by the New Year, tax increases and spending cuts will automatically kick in. Some economists predict that would lead to a new recession.

CBS News has learned that a select group of U.S. senators who call themselves the "Gang of Eight" will meet in Virginia at Mount Vernon -- the home of George Washington -- for the next three days.

Senators meet in effort to avoid fiscal cliff

The "Gang of Eight" includes Republicans -- Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Sen. Mike Johanns (Neb.) -- and Democrat -- Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.), Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) -- who are trying to put together some ideas for a framework of revenue increases and budget cuts that both parties could agree to.

CBS News can also report that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the chairmen of a key bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, are also expected to attend.

A recent report by the Brookings-Urban Institute Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, said that going off this so-called fiscal cliff would impact 88 percent of U.S. taxpayers, and that their taxes would go up by an average of $3,500 a year.

Last week, CBS News talked with a well-respected economist and one member of the "Gang of Eight." Both said that there is a strong chance that Congress will not come to an agreement by January. If that happens, they'll be some tax increases and some budget cuts that may go into effect. Congress may find a way to push the decision into the first months of the new year. But either way, pressure is expected to build from the public and the markets, forcing Congress to do something.

Watch Bill Plante's report in the video above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent

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