It took more than two weeks, but Congress finally reached a shutdown-ending, debt ceiling-raising deal that satisfies both sides of the aisle.
Or maybe it doesn’t. Who can tell in this flurry of gamesmanship and posturing?
What’s certain is, whether it voted on principle or politics, Congress’ compromise shouldn’t have Americans brimming with confidence that the days of dysfunction are past them. Here are three reasons why:
1. The deal kicks the can down the road
Democrats and Republicans have negotiated a deal that would fund government through January 15, so about three months.
Meanwhile, the deadline set for budget negotiations for the entire fiscal year – which are expected to address deficit-reduction measures and could affect the timeline for the next debt-limit increase – would be sometime in December.
As much as political leaders might try to cast it as some grand compromise, this week’s deal is but a Band-Aid on the nation’s economy, which will still require major surgery in the next few months.
Americans will have to live through the rounds of rigmarole that come with the next showdown.
2. You thought that was contentious? You ain’t seen nothing yet
As much as President Barack Obama has insisted that the debt ceiling is not subject to partisan politics, these protracted and ugly negotiations demonstrate otherwise, portending similar showdown in the future.
It may seem the congressional wrangling preceding the deal was a study in government at its most dysfunctional, but experts say the worst could be on the horizon.
With animosity between Democrats and Republicans growing rapidly, the prospect for friendly agreements on future debates will be more elusive. As the November 2014 midterm elections near, Americans can expect even more posturing and grandstanding and less cooperation and collaboration.
Then there’s Obamacare. If the tea party and staunch conservatives in the GOP fail to get their anti-Obamacare measures passed, “the reaction is not going to be, ‘Gee I guess we should surrender,’ ” said CNN “Crossfire” panelist and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“They will be more embittered, more angry. They will find more ways to go after Obama because they can’t find any way to get him to negotiate,” he said, adding that he expects Obamacare to become the defining issue of the next two elections cycles.
And if you were looking forward to some meaningful progress on immigration reform and other issues, think again.
A White House spokesman echoed Gingrich’s thoughts on government discord: “I think it’s early days, considering all we’ve been through, to start predicting future bipartisan harmony.”
3. Even if members of Congress miraculously got along, Americans wouldn’t trust them
There is no shortage of polls showing that Americans are fed up with their elected officials. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showed that 63% of respondents were angry at Republicans for their handling of the shutdown, 57% were mad at Democrats and 53% expressed disappointment with Obama.
A more light-hearted poll from Public Policy Polling last week may be even more telling, as pollsters pitted Congress against everything from Wall Street to witches, and you might be surprised by the various entities – including Wall Street and witches – that had better approval ratings than Congress.
Among the things that bested Congress, according to respondents: dog poop (47%-40%), hemorrhoids (53%-31%), jury duty (73%-18%), toenail fungus (44%-41%), cockroaches (44%-42%), the IRS (42%-33%), the respondents’ mothers-in-law (64%-20%), potholes (47%-36%) and zombies (43%-37%).
In what could, conceivably, be construed as good news, Congress did manage to edge out Russian President Vladimir Putin, former congressman Anthony Weiner, Lindsay Lohan, Honey Boo Boo, Charles Manson, Ebola, heroin, Syria, Miley Cyrus and, of course, twerking.
The poll results are funny, but is there any humor in a governing body that has lost the faith of such a significant portion of the electorate? Is it possible to govern effectively when the American public is so angry with Congress and the president?
Looks like the country will find out in the next few months.
CNN’s Tom Cohen contributed to this report.