Continued from page 1

He said there’s a realization in both parties that the status quo is not viable.

In the near term, young illegal immigrants were waiting to see whether they still would be able to get tentative legal status next year — something Mr. Obama enacted but Mr. Romney said he would halt.

Even as businesses and immigrant rights groups push for an immigration deal, though, there’s scant evidence that voters want to see action when the economy still dominates.

The problem for all sides is the math that says you can’t boost the economy and lower the deficit at the same time.

The Congressional Budget Office said allowing taxes to rise and spending to be cut — which current law calls for at the beginning of January — would put the budget back on track toward some stability. But it also would send the country careening into a double-dip recession.

Delaying those spending cuts and tax increases would boost the economy now but would mean an even deeper recession later.

Democrats and Republicans spent most of the past year arguing over different solutions to cancel the spending cuts, “they couldn’t find them before the election, so I don’t know how that works out,” said former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who runs the Republican Main Street Partnership, the coalition of moderate lawmakers in the GOP.

Mr. Davis said Congress could let the deadline slip past Jan. 1 but would have to be quick to act early next year because otherwise “the genie is out of the bottle.”