As fiscal cliff approaches, staffers work behind the scenes

This Nov. 14, 2012 file photo shows President Barack Obama gesturing while answering a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. It\'s entirely possible that lawmakers and the White House will reach a deal to avert an avalanche of tax increases and deep cuts in government programs before a Jan. 1 deadline. To do so, however, they\'ll have to resolve serious political and fiscal dilemmas that have stymied them time after time, despite repeated vows to overcome them. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Heather Brady, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A month away from the “fiscal cliff,” the White House and Republicans have failed to reach an agreement so far.

But despite a lack of action Saturday from the principal players in the political discourse, aides and other staffers behind the scenes are working on the issue.

“The most high-level talk this week was Tim Geithner, the (U.S.) Treasury secretary,” says Paul Brandus, White House correspondent for the West Wing Report. “He went to the Hill. That was the meeting that erupted in laughter when he listed the President’s demands to (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell. But there are back-channel talks going on.”

Brandus tells WTOP there are no fiscal cliff meetings listed on President Barack Obama’s official schedule over the next week, but that doesn’t mean he won’t discuss it. The White House often avoids mentioning those kinds of plans in advance.

Almost a month after the election, Brandus says President Barack Obama has leveraged the 332 electoral votes he won to see how far he can go.

“He’s really upped the stakes in this fight