The 2012 election came and went, leaving Washington virtually unchanged. Nearly all the same leadership, the same personalities, and the same old issues that lead to such awful gridlock the last two years will be returning to the Capitol.
But there are real signs that things are changing around here. The "fiscal cliff" is actually doing its job, which is to create a moment so terrible that both sides have to come together and do something to avoid it. The so-called "cliff" comes on Jan. 1, when several tax cuts expire, and severe cuts to government spending are automatically triggered. We are already seeing a more conciliatory tone from both Democrats and Republicans, a willingness to compromise because both sides realize the alternative would truly be bad for the country.
Candidates campaigned on these issues in the fall, some promising voters they would prevent the defense cuts and tax increases that would happen if the country falls over that fiscal cliff. But President Obama said on the stump that any couple that makes more than $250,000 a year is going to see their taxes raised. The president won, and Republicans are already conceding the need for new revenues, if still disagreeing on the particulars.
For more on the overlap between the two parties this year, and why the Republicans will be more conciliatory than they have in the past, check out this week's Top Line.