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A deal done, but this year’s been a legislative dud for Obama

  • Written by John King/CNN
  • Published in News

PresidentObama-600It began with high hopes and lofty rhetoric, as a newly reelected President Barack Obama ended his State of the Union wish list with a call to action: "It remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story."

But 2013 will hardly be remembered as a great chapter. Instead, even with Wednesday's debt ceiling and government funding deal, this is a wasted year in Washington, one of more band-aid budgeting, polarized partisanship and Republican chaos.

Yes, public opinion polls suggest the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is more damaging to Republicans than to the President and his fellow Democrats.

And Obama gives up little in the deal struck Wednesday to fund the government through January and raise the debt ceiling through early February.

But with precious time in his second term ticking by, it is safe to say the President is losing even as he may "win" the short-term political blame game.

Consider the priorities laid out in his February State of the Union Address:

• A new jobs plan

• Infrastructure investments targeting roads and the 70,000 American bridges he noted are deemed structurally unsound

• An increase, to $9 an hour, in the federal minimum wage

• A guarantee of quality pre-school education for every child in America

• New background checks for gun purchases and, the President asked, for an up or down vote on new gun restrictions, including a ban on certain assault style weapons

• Plus sweeping immigration reform, including, in his words, "a reasonable pathway to earned citizenship."

Also in his address: a plea to end the budgeting by brinksmanship and crisis and a hopeful call for bipartisan negotiations on tax reform and Medicare and other entitlement spending.

Eight months later – as the end of that critical first year of the presidential term comes into focus – none of those priorities has been realized. Not one.

And Washington's dysfunction appears to be only deepening, as differences between Democrats and Republicans are often overshadowed by the internal civil war within the GOP.

Don't count on that environment improving once Washington stumbles its way past this latest crisis.

The deal provides a temporary fix – essentially kicking the can down the road to January and February to give Congress and the White House time to negotiate.

A welcome respite, perhaps, but the issues wont get any easier over the course of those three or four months, and the politics – believe it or not – could get even more difficult because those new deadlines are early in the midterm election year.

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