BOSTON (CBS) – Holiday sales are up, new cars are rolling off the lots again, and the real estate market is showing signs of life.

Q & A: Ask Our Financial Experts Your Questions

And then there’s the fiscal cliff looming in Washington.

“It means the most predictable, preventable recession in U.S. history,” Harvard University economics professor Jeffrey Frankel told WBZ-TV.

Frankel couldn’t be more direct about the potential impact of suddenly raising taxes and cutting spending all at once.

“To get hit with this all at once it would be disastrous for the economy,” he said.

“My biggest fear is kids get cheated,” Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn said.

While lawmakers point their partisan fingers in Washington, McGlynn worries about how their actions will impact his small city north of Boston.

“If there is a fiscal cliff and we’re going off it and we have to open up the budget and start laying people off again,” he told WBZ.

That’s because the feds will give fewer dollars to the state, which then can’t help cities and towns.

Massachusetts stands to lose $300 million for the remainder of this fiscal year and another $1.5 billion next year.

“We know that there are going to be some spending reductions as part of the solution,” Gov. Deval Patrick said.

“But most people still want the fire department to show up if they have a fire. They still want classrooms not to be so crowded.”

Getting a deal done will require a level of bipartisanship that hasn’t been seen in Washington in years.

“We did this before, we did it when Ronald Reagan was president and Tip O’Neil was Speaker of the House,” New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said.

“Bipartisanship doesn’t mean you’re altogether, it means you each have a position and you maintain your position, but then you try to come together and do compromises,” retiring Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank said.

Business owners like Arthur Assimakopoulas in Wakefield worry about surviving another recession.

He hopes our political leaders can rise to this challenge.

“OK, people have different views, that’s what America is built upon. Different beliefs. Put that aside and get together and to come up with a plan to save the country basically.”

But there isn’t much time left and there’s still much that needs to be done.

What are the odds professor Frankel is giving for the fiscal cliff?

“For the disaster scenario,” he says “maybe one in four.”

Better odds than the lottery, but no safe bet. will have an expert on call for a live Q&A Monday through Friday from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. to answer your questions about the fiscal cliff.

The series “Inside the Fiscal Cliff” airs all week at 5 and 11 p.m. on WBZ-TV and at 5:55 a.m., 8:55 a.m., 12:21 p.m., and 4:55 p.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.


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