Not many people seem to have been paying attention to this, but, out of an apparent aversion to finality from both parties, virtually every compromise and deal that has been made in the Obama era will expire between Election Day this year and the swearing in of the next Congress after New Years. For those with more interesting things to pay attention to than CSPAN, here is just a partial list of items Congress will have to address in December 2012:
- Bush tax cuts (expire 12/31)
- Payroll tax cuts (expire 12/31)
- Medicare “dox fix” (expires 12/31)
- Sequestration cuts (go into effect 1/2)
- FY 2013 Appropriations (technically due 9/30, but Congress will certainly pass a CR to through the Election)
- Debt Ceiling (needs to be raised before the end of the year)
- Appointments (Obama’s recess appointments from last December will expire this December)
- Unemployment Benefits (likely to be extended through to the end of the year)
Note that previously every single one of these provisions engulfed the Capitol in months-long standoffs individually. I cannot imagine the apocalyptic scenerio that would result from trying to settle each of them simultaneously for all time, during a lame duck session no less.
Also note that this list does not even include the shitstorm that will kick up if the SCOTUS finds the individual mandate unconstitutional (especially if it is deemed severable from the remainder of the bill, which does not seem likely based on last Wednesday’s testimony), which will force Congress to adjust the bill rapidly to retain the enacted time table and will likely eclipse all other priorities.