Polls consistently show the public favors Obama's position of raising taxes on wealthy Americans in order to minimize cuts.
Nearly half of Americans -- 49% -- approve the president's handling of the talks, compared with 25% who say Boehner is doing a good job, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg National Poll found nearly two-thirds of respondents, including nearly 50% of Republicans, believe Obama's re-election gave him a mandate to seek higher taxes on the wealthy.
Regardless of which side of the debate citizens fall, experts agree almost everyone will be affected if a deal isn't struck. Two former Senate majority leaders said Thursday both sides must be ready to compromise.
"The simplest way to put it is that we're at 24% spending, we're at 16% revenue," said Tom Daschle, a former Democratic senator from South Dakota. "We've got to bring those two closer together, and that's how you get a balanced budget, and ultimately that's how you get fiscal responsibility. ... It can be done."
To Trent Lott, a former Republican senator from Mississippi, it comes down to the principal negotiators.
"There'll come a moment when the speaker ... and the president will have to make a decision," Lott said. "But they need to do it in concert.
"It's like directing the orchestra. You've got to have the winds and the brass come together, and they're not quite there."