With the elections out of the way, the time to actually govern has arrived. And the pending fiscal cliff will test everyone's mettle.

The fiscal cliff is the legislative equivalent of a slow-motion train wreck that Congress and President Obama can avoid ... but only if they work together.

Some seasoned Washington observers think they will do just that, despite their troubled history, because they don't want to be blamed for what happens if they fail.

But others say there's a good chance they won't because the election did nothing to ease the partisan chasm overtaxes. They argue that only a market crash or a crisis over the country's debt ceiling will force their hand.

The fiscal cliff -- which starts to take effect in January -- includes $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts over a decade. In addition, the debt ceiling will need to be raised by early next year.

Among the fiscal cliff policies at issue: reductions in both defense and non-defense spending; the expiration of the Bush tax cuts; the end of a payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits; and the onset of reimbursement cuts to Medicare doctors