So what is really in the fiscal cliff legislation?
Of course, there are the widely-known sticking points the two sides have been haggling over for weeks: extensions of the income tax cuts for middle and low-income earners, the current estate tax rate, and the alternative minimum tax.
But there's also a provision on two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles, renewable energy, and rum.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which passed the Senate early Tuesday morning, is a vehicle for a number of regular year-end tax extenders.
Among the extensions is the excise tax carry-over on rum produced in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It's a federal tax of which most is paid back to the islands.
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist says technically lawmakers didn't violate their anti-tax pledge by voting in favor of the fiscal cliff deal, which increases tax cuts on households earning more than $450,000 annually.
He argues that because the Bush tax cuts expired the day before the vote, legislators were essentially cutting taxes by supporting the new bill that passed in the Senate and House on January 1.
Three days before 2012 ends, the president and House and Senate leaders meet to negotiate on a last-minute agreement. They're scrambling to meet a deadline they created – we're Keeping Them Honest.
With 28 days before the deadline, there's no compromise between Congress and the president. No behind-the-scenes negotiating, no staff level talks, nothing. Anderson Cooper is Keeping Them Honest.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell says in his day, the parties worked together despite opposing beliefs. He tells Anderson Cooper why reaching a fiscal cliff deal is much more of a challenge in 2012 than it would have been decades ago.
Although the issues and views from both sides haven't changed much, the difference is the personal relationships between members of the two sides."You didn't have the total polarization that you have today," says Mitchell.
After he was chosen as majority leader, Mitchell's first priority was reaching out to Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. He recounts to Anderson the conversation that would set the tone for their working relationship. Mitchell told Dole, "If we don't have some degree of trust between us, it will be an impossible job," and he promised never to surprise him and never to try to embarrass him.
And in the six years they worked together, no harsh words were exchanged. "We debated vigorously on the floor of the Senate, but it was not personal," says Mitchell.
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