WASHINGTON (AP) — In their "fiscal cliff" standoff, President Barack Obama wants to raise taxes by about $20 billion a year more than House Speaker John Boehner. The president wants the government to spend about that much more yearly than Boehner does, too.

That's real money by most measures. Yet such numbers are barely noticeable compared to the $2.6 trillion the government is projected to collect next year, and to the $3.6 trillion it's expected to spend.

As the "cliff" approaches — economy-shaking tax increases and spending cuts that start hitting in early January unless lawmakers act first — each side says the other isn't being serious enough about trimming federal deficits. But their inability so far to strike a compromise underscores that their problem is more than arithmetic — it's also about the difficult politics that Democrat Obama and Republican Boehner face when it comes to lining up votes.

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