May 6, 2012
By the end of last summer’s grueling debt ceiling fight there was really only one thing Democrats and Republicans agreed on: They can’t get anything big done until after the election.
That might have been too optimistic.
Many longtime Washington observers now think there’s a good chance the dynamics driving the campaign may make a compromise even harder on taxes, spending and entitlements.
Republicans will vow fealty to the party’s anti-tax stance to sustain tea party support, while Democrats will rally their troops around Medicare, the health law’s insurance coverage expansion and other social programs.
“I have hopes, but this [would] be the triumph of hope over experience” if a deal is reached, said former Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat who represented North Dakota in Congress for 30 years before retiring in 2011. “Congress is going to have very little time to find ways to reach big solutions, and the past record gives you very little confidence...”
“I would think that the lame duck session would be very attractive, particularly to some who may have lost, to say this is our only chance to have made an impact while we’ve been here,” said former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, whose 2010 primary loss to tea partier Mike Lee left many moderate Republicans shaking in their boots.
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