It passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support, but liberals and conservatives alike found something to loathe in the final agreement.
John Boehner once had a name for this kind of legislation: "Crap sandwich."
The House Speaker used that pungent phrase to describe the 2009 financial rescue bill -- which he then proceeded to vote for. But it seemed equally applicable to the last-minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff that squeaked through the House late Tuesday night. There was one broad area of bipartisan agreement about the final deal: Everybody hated it.
It's not every day that the liberal group MoveOn and the conservative group FreedomWorks are united. But on Tuesday, both were calling on Congress to defeat the fiscal-cliff deal. And when President Obama gave a statement in the White House late Tuesday night, his tone was distinctly disapproving.
This may be the definition of compromise -- each side makes enough real concessions to feel truly dissatisfied with the final result, but both sides' ownership of the measure means it can't be used as a political wedge. Nonetheless, the legislation left a bad taste in just about everyone's mouth. Here's why:
* President Obama: It's too small. Speaking in the White House after 11 p.m. Tuesday night before jetting off to Hawaii, the president briefly praised Congress for getting its act together, then turned to lament the provisional nature of the agreement. He and Boehner, he noted, had "tried to negotiate a larger agreement" that would encompass both long-term deficit reduction and investment in infrastructure and education. "Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough support or time for that kind of large agreement in a lame duck session of Congress," he said. "And that failure comes with a cost, as the messy nature of the process over the past several weeks has made business more uncertain and consumers less confident." In fact, the agreement sets up several new deadline-based fights down the road. Rather than deal with the automatic spending cuts of the so-called sequester, it postpones them for two months, forcing Congress to deal with them again in a matter of weeks. And the bill doesn't raise the debt ceiling, setting up another fight in a few months' time.