Leonhardt gives three possibilities:

1. Mr. Obama and his Republican opponent in 2012 both campaign on the issue, but nothing happens before the election. One party wins a resounding enough victory that it gets its way after the election.

2. Nothing happens before the 2012 election. Mr. Obama wins re-election, but Republicans retain the House and maybe even take the Senate. The two parties then engage in the showdown many liberals wanted this time around, in which Mr. Obama refuses to sign any extension that includes the high-end tax cuts. Everyone’s taxes rise in 2013. They remain higher helping reduce the deficit or one party eventually stands down.

3. Congress and the White House manage to agree on an overhaul of the whole tax code before 2013, as various deficit panels have urged. Rates fall for all taxpayers, while various deductions are eliminated. The Bush tax cuts become an anachronism.

I’m guessing that Option 3 is the least likely.

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