Now, the failure to move forward on the tax and unemployment benefit extension is likely to cost consumers again. If a compromise is not reached, it will change spending patterns for many Americans, while heaping additional hardship on the unemployed.
If there's any sign of hope for compromise, it's coming from Republicans in the Senate. Many are facing tough re-election campaigns in the coming year, and recognize that actions that hurt consumers are unpopular with voters.
"There is no question we need to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year ... However, there is no reason to hold up the short-term extension while a more comprehensive deal is being worked out," said Senator Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada. "What is playing out in Washington, D.C., this week is about political leverage, not about what's good for the American people."