These sources in both parties emphasize that talks have not yet begun in earnest, but the idea would be to extend all tax cuts at least for two years, through the next presidential election, and, they hope, until the economy gets better.

Meanwhile, if the two sides remain deadlocked, some Republican sources say it could be to their advantage to let the cuts expire at the end of the year – for what could be a few weeks – and then take the issue up when the new Congress convenes in January, when GOP lawmakers have more power.