Really quick thought on the tax deal.
Obviously the rhetoric surround the bill has been spin oriented on both sides. The conservatives say it is not a continuation of tax cuts, but a continuation of current tax policy (odd when the vote was to extend something set to expire). The liberals want to know how the nation will pay for this spending (odd when you can’t say what it was spent on, and there is nobody to pay for it).
The point is that both sides are upset, which means both made concession, which means both parties did what their constituents elected them to do. I think this an especially strong demonstration of skill on the Republican side. While any liberal would disagree with their position, claiming that the Republicans have ignored the voices of the people and are only concerned about the top few percent of wage earners. Each of those Republicans was elected by a simple majority, not by 1, 5, or even 20% of voters. At least half of the voters those Republicans represent wanted that individual more than somebody else. Further, what are Republicans known for? Cutting taxes on the rich. Duh! Therefore, even if the majority of Americans didn’t want the cut to continue for the rich, those Republicans accomplished exactly what their voters expected. It’s not dirty politics, it’s successful leveraging by the minority party to accomplish what they were elected to do.