The “fiscal cliff” was designed by Washington for Washington. It was intended to set up a scenario so severe that the president and Congress would, at last, have to take on the nation’s major tax and spending problems. Instead, lawmakers again found a way to sidestep many of the prickliest issues and in the process set up other, potentially more severe, showdowns in the new year.
Assuming the deal is approved, it could nevertheless give way to a nearly continuous series of fights that will consume the first part of the year, even as President Obama might hope to shift Congress’s attention to immigration reform and gun control.
“It’s become less like a fiscal cliffhanger and more like a journey over the fiscal mountains,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).