US lawmakers rush to reach deal to avert fiscal calamity set to hit the world economy

US lawmakers are returning to work later today, in a final attempt to reach a deal to avert a fiscal calamity set to hit the world economy within hours. 

Two days of talks produced no deal between US political leaders, who are struggling for a compromise to head-off a punishing package of spending cuts and tax hikes due to come into force on January 1st. 

This could plunge the United States back into a punishing recession. 

If leaders fail to find an agreement, President Barack Obama has demanded a vote on his fallback plan that would preserve lower tax rates for families earning less than US$250,000 a year, and extend unemployment insurance for two million people. 

Earlier, Mr Obama accused Republicans of causing the mess, saying they had refused to move on what he said were genuine offers of compromise from the Democrats.