One of the nation's credit rating agencies is threatening to downgrade the United States if Congress doesn't vote to avoid a "fiscal cliff."
Investor group Moody's is warning it will downgrade the country's credit ranking from AAA to something less if Congress fails to extend a series of tax cuts and funding for government programs set to expire at the end of the year.
Experts say if Congress does nothing, the U.S. will go over the cliff and more than $500 billion will be removed from the economy in 2013.
A damaged credit rating would make it more difficult for the country to borrow going forward.
"Ultimately, if we have to pay more to borrow money on treasury bonds, it means harder for the United States to operate. It means we have bigger debt," said economist Don McNay.
If Moody's does downgrade the U.S. credit rating, it would be the second time in American history.
The U.S. lost its AAA rating with Standard and Poor's last year.