The White House is taking a hard line on fiscal cliff negotiations, insisting tax rates have to rise on the rich and warning any more delay on a deal could ruin consumer confidence and hurt holiday retail sales that started with a roar on Black Friday.
The the White House move is startling, and there are signs of compromise on Capitol Hill.
Leaders on both sides are agreeing to more tax revenue from the rich, but there is still a fight over hiking rates.
Still, it's the house that has the ball.
"I don't care if you raise taxes 100% on the wealthy - you are not going to fix the deficit problem," says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Cantor is talking tough, but Republicans are open to new revenue because of the new reality following President Obama's reelection.
Some Republicans agree the rich should pay more but just by reducing deductions.
Democrats still say rates ought to rise on the rich.
"The President has made clear that he will not sign a bill that extends the Bush era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pointed out Monday.
Billionaire Warren Buffett, an Obama ally, again backed a rate hike on the rich, calling in the New York Times for a minimum tax for the wealthy.
"I would suggest 30% of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35% on amounts above that," Buffett wrote.
30% of income between one and 10 million, 35% above that.
Republicans insist any deal on tax hikes has to come after a commitment to control spending on Medicare and Social Security.