The outline of a deal, as President Obama announced, has been reached: The Bush tax cuts will be extended temporarily, with an extension of unemployment insurance, a payroll tax cut, and a temporary Estate Tax fix attached.
If such a deal goes through Congress, the tax cuts will be set to expire once again at the end of 2012, and virtually the same debate we're witnessing now--whether to extend the lower rates on higher earnings--will build up in the latter half of that year, as, coincidentally, the nation is swept up in the fervor of a presidential race.
Having pledged since 2008 not to extend the tax cuts on earnings above $250,000, President Obama will likely push for that same policy again, barring a drastic reversal, or perhaps a renewed focus on deficit-reduction that would lead him to seek higher rates across the board, not just on higher incomes. Given the GOP's united support for a $250K+ extension, there's no reason to think the party's 2012 presidential nominee would feel any differently.
The tax cuts were an issue in the 2010 midterms, but not by any means the biggest. The economy and health care reform took center stage, even as Tea Partiers and anti-tax groups criticized Obama for wanting to let the higher-income cuts expire.