Probably the telling sign that we shouldn’t expect a deal regarding the fiscal cliff in the near future is that Speaker John Boehner is going back home to Ohio this weekend. While it is true that Boehner and President Obama can always talk on the phone, when you have a negotiation involving so many moving parts there is no substitute for being in the same place with not only the principles, but also the analysis, aides, and number crunchers.

If there were a deal or even the possibility of being very close to a deal, it is highly unlikely Boehner would be going home this weekend. Instead, he would be in Washington so if they rushed they could get a bill drafted, scored, and voted on before Christmas.

At this point it is becoming increasingly clear that we shouldn’t expect anything until around January 1st. That is when we are either likely to get a last minute action that only fixes the fake crisis Congress created for itself, or they will try to ramp through a horrible deal claiming “there is no time to even read it because the economy will implode if it is not approved in the next 30 minutes.”

Right now the former seems more likely given how many times Obama has tried and failed to get a grand bargain. A bill just dealing with the tax cuts and few months continuing resolutions delaying most of the spending cuts would take all the elevation out of the so called fiscal cliff.

Photo from Speaker Boehner under Creative Commons license.