Ordinarily, the start of a new Congress is a time for optimism. Fresh faces and a purposeful spirit combine to get Congress off to a hope-filled start.
Yet Capitol Hill right now is far from optimistic. That’s because last year’s session, with its distressing end by the edge of the fiscal cliff, left the new Congress confronting head on all the challenges that should have been resolved but weren’t: getting spending and the deficit under control, spurring economic growth, and reforming the tax code.
Congressional performance at the end of 2012 fell far short, leaving not just a sour taste in most Americans’ mouths but real cause for concern about how Congress operates. We learned a lot about Capitol Hill from the “fiscal cliff” episode, and not much of it is flattering.