Constant crisis, a more aggressive president, maybe even a more accommodating Republican Party: What last week's agreement tells us about the road ahead
The fiscal cliff was not the end. If anything, it was the beginning of a new season of crisis on Capitol Hill. Aren't you glad?
The coming months will bring three new deadline-focused congressional crises. First, we'll hit the debt ceiling -- that could come as soon as February 15, meaning Congress, having already ruined New Year's, could also spoil Valentine's Day. Then, on March 1, the automatic spending cuts of the so-called sequester, which last week's fiscal-cliff deal postponed for two months, come due once again. And by late March, it will be time to pass the next spending bill to fund the federal government.
If it sounds like a Groundhog Day of recurring fiscal crises, it probably is. But that's just the most immediate legacy of the fiscal-cliff deal, which, by postponing the sequester and debt-ceiling issues, helped create this situation.
In ways both concrete and abstract, the cliff deal -- though technically a product of the last Congress and the first Obama administration -- is likely to set the tone for the coming years' dance between Obama and Congress. As the successor to the debt-limit talks of 2011 that did so much to redefine Obama's stance toward Capitol Hill, the fiscal-cliff deal's virtues (a bipartisan deal that got done before the "cliff" could meaningfully take effect) and shortcomings (it's an incomplete solution that left much unresolved) likely foreshadow the prospects for congressional action on a range of issues, for better and worse.