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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Retired Alabama resident Eddie Brackett has been thinking a lot about the American economy.

"This country wasn't built on fussin' and fightin.' It was built on getting together, ironing out problems and coming together on one accord that's going to be good for everybody," Brackett said while waiting for his car to be repaired.

With less than three weeks left before Washington drives off the "fiscal cliff" of wide-ranging tax increases and spending cuts, The Associated Press drove the Deep South, taking the pulse of small businesses, farmers and retirees. Many, like Brackett, are frustrated by the failure so far of Congress and the White House to strike a budget deal.

"It's got to be a partnership," Brackett said. "You can't split up and go, because it's not good for the country any way you go."

There is increasing concern about a Dec. 31 deadline to stop the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and the start of across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of Washington's failure to complete a deficit-reduction deal last year. Even if an agreement can be reached, the halting pace of negotiations is jeopardizing chances that it could be written into proper legislative form and passed through the House and Senate before the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3.

Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/Skdhmh.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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