Nothing But Battles Lie Ahead for the New Congress


It was simply known as "battle fatigue" during World War II; used to describe all sorts of conditions and side effects that soldiers developed in combat, but none more than the sudden inability to fight anymore.

Today in Washington, despite a bruising Presidential race and a two-month tangle over the fiscal cliff, lawmakers are anything but fatigued. In fact, they seem recharged and ready to go at it again and again and again.

"We're headed to another showdown. Brinksmanship is going to be the name of the game. It's not going to be pretty," says Ed Mills, a Washington-based senior policy analyst for FBR Capital.

He's talking about what he calls the "triple witching hour" that lawmakers will have to face in the next three months as they try to simultaneously prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, from getting hit with across the board spending cuts, all while preventing the government from shutting down.
As much as he says "debt ceiling increases used to be perfunctory," that is clearly no longer the case, as conservative Republicans are already lining up for a rematch.

"Neither side is going to try to get this done early," Mills says, adding that he doesn't "have a lot of hope for a huge grand compromise" over the debt ceiling, spending cuts or the continuing resolution.

As much as he thinks Republicans will seek a trillion dollars in spending cuts to offset comparable increases in the deficit due to the fiscal cliff pact Tuesday, he is convinced "most of the savings will come in the out years, with nibbling around the edges in early years."

As much as Americans are fed up with Congress' endless bickering, Mills says "there are a lot of conservative lawmakers who were very burnt by this last process" and are prepared to take us over the cliff again by any means necessary.

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