Defense contractors have slowed hiring. Tax advisers are warning firms not to count on favorite breaks. And hospitals are scouring their books for ways to cut costs.

Across the U.S. economy, anxiety is rising about the potential for widespread disruptions after the November election, when a lame-duck Congress will have barely two months to resolve a grinding standoff over taxes and spending…

“How do you plan for chaos?” Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, sighed during a break between meetings with lawmakers, who could provide little assurance that the spending cuts would be averted. “It’s almost a unique moment in government because there’s so much at stake. And there’s nothing that inspires confidence that this will get done.”

The uncertainty is already prompting some firms to take action.