On the one hand, the last minute December 2012 fiscal cliff deal was in no respects a policy breakthrough, but on the other hand, it didn’t solve any process issues either. There will be no grand resolution, which pleases the ideologues on both sides. God forbid that we come to any workable compromises. And there is no framework. So the 2013 stage is set for a series of useless little budget/deficit/debt wars.
We face, in turn, (1) the sequestration battles starting in March (over irresponsible cuts we agreed to 15 months ago as a way of avoiding doing anything then), (2) continuing resolution battles starting in April (a series of confrontations over spending this year because Congress couldn’t pass spending bills), (3) 2014 budget battles starting in May (but then we haven’t actually agreed on a budget for years), and (4) the return of the debt limit debacle sometime around August. (You thought this was over because Congress has declared that the debt limit has been suspended, but it’s coming back.)