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Fiscal Cliff Could Have Greatest Impact on Poor, Unemployed

Those at the bottom of the economic ladder have much to lose if the country faces automatic tax hikes and spending cuts -- particularly if there are cutbacks in many federal assistance programs. Congress missed its deadline to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff when the House put off any votes Monday evening, even as the president and congressional leaders said they were closing in on a deal, which the Senate passed early Tuesday.

At a Los Angeles center, Catholic Charities provides food and other assistance to the poor, unemployed, and homeless. A homeless man, John Wood, is sitting with his belongs in a grocery cart outside the center. He says doesn't know the details of the talks in Washington, but that an eventual agreement is important.

“It will directly affect the economy if they don't do it. Many people will lose jobs and that will be more of a downturn for the economy," he said.

Inside, volunteer Yolanda Barber is handing out bags of groceries, freshly made salads and pizza. She hopes that President and Congress will put politics aside in the interests of the country. “OK, this is Democratic and this is Republican. It's not about that. It's about doing the right thing for the people, period," he said. "And it's very troubling where the economy is right now. If the issue is not resolved, then what will happen?”

Cuts in federal funding for health and welfare programs would hurt the poor more than others, but Chris Sanchez, who is looking for a job, said he was certain the nation's leaders will avoid the fiscal cliff.

“Of course they’re going to work out a deal, man. It's a cliff. You want to drive off a cliff? Come on, man," he said.

Political analysts say although Congress did not meet its midnight deadline, lawmakers and the president can soften the impact of going over the fiscal cliff by taking quick action to limit the damage. These Los Angeles residents say they're waiting for good news from Washington.

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