President Obama is leading Mitt Romney in the polls, but even if he wins in November, he’ll soon face another daunting problem: The fiscal cliff.

To avoid the series of tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to take effect in the new year, Congress will need to agree on a plan shortly after the elections and the one they may favor could put President Obama in a tight spot, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

That likely plan is commonly referred to as Simpson-Bowles, named for authors Alan K. Simpson and Erskine Bowles who were appointed co-chairmen of President Obama's deficit commission, which failed to agree on a plan of its own. If President Obama were to go along with the plan, he would be forced to commit a “betrayal to the electorate,” according to Krugman, since the proposal makes changes to Social Security and Medicare that jeopardize the safety net, while lowering the marginal tax rate, which he says does little to reduce the deficit.

Krugman has used even stronger language to criticize Simpson-Bowles in the past. He penned one blog post earlier this year called “A Public Service Reminder: Simpson-Bowles Is Terrible,” while in another post Krugman called the proposal, “a really bad plan.” For Krugman, it seems, if Obama caved to a plan even based on the original Simpson-Bowles proposal he would be turning his back on voters who support him for his emphasis on preserving the social safety net.

But Krugman isn’t the only public figure to criticize Simpson-Bowles. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against it, albeit for different reasons. Republicans, including Paul Ryan and one of Romney’s economic advisers, Kevin Hassett, have derided the plan, saying it will increase taxes, The Washington Post reports. On the other hand, Democrats have opposed the plan fearing that it makes too many cuts to Social Security among other concerns, according to Businessweek.

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who doesn't hold such disdain. In August, he told talk-show host Sean Hannity “My [deficit reduction] plan is very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan," TIME reports.

Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the Simpson-Bowles plan as the product of President Obama's deficit commission. It is the independent plan of that commission's co-chairmen.

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  • Wealthy Benefit Most From Tax Cuts

    Paul Ryan's most recent budget proposal would save those making between $20,000 and $30,000 just $246 in taxes, compared to savings of $265,011 for those who make over $1 million, according to analysis from the <a href="" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.

  • Health Care Cuts

    The "Path to Prosperity" would cut $2.4 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs for people with low or moderate incomes, according to analysis from the <a href="" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.

  • Fewer People Covered By Medicaid

    Under Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" as many as 44 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid, <a href="" target="_hplink">according to CBS News</a>.

  • Reduced Health Care For Retirees

    Ryan would raise the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. If the Affordable Care Act was repealed, something Romney has pledged, that means many 65- and 66-year-olds would be left uninsured, the <a href="" target="_hplink">CBPP reports</a>.

  • Seniors Would Pay More For Health Coverage

    Under Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," senior citizens would have to pay as much as 68 percent of their health care coverage, up from 25 percent today, <a href="" target="_hplink">CBS News reports.</a>

  • Cuts To Food Stamp Programs

    Ryan's proposed "Path to Prosperity" includes $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, according to analysis from the <a href="" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.

  • Lower Tax Credit For Single Moms

    A single mother of two working full time at the minimum wage would have her Child Tax Credit cut by more than $1,500, assuming she made $14,500 a year, according to the <a href="" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.

  • Less Money For Education

    Compared to the most recent White House budget proposal, Ryan's budget spends 33 percent less on education, training, employment and social services, <a href="" target="_hplink">the <em>Washington Post</em> reports</a>.

  • Poor Weather Forecasts

    Ryan's proposed cuts to environment and natural resource programs could result in weather forecasts being only half as accurate, according to Third Way's budget expert, David Kendall. "For many people planning a weekend outdoors, they may have to wait until Thursday for a forecast as accurate as one they now get on Monday," <a href="" target="_hplink">he's quoted as saying in the <em>Washington Post</em></a>.

  • No Raises For Government Workers

    The current government worker pay freeze would be extended under the "Path to Prosperity," meaning public-sector employees wouldn't get a raise until at least 2015, <a href="" target="_hplink">the <em>Washington Post</em> reports</a>.