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DC Dysfunction: 2011 Reflections

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As 2011 comes to a close, we're taking a look back at how we covered some of the biggest news stories of the year, including U.S. politics.

Washington was on the brink of a shutdown several times this year, as Democrats and Republicans jockeyed over raising the debt ceiling and slashing the budget. The federal government may have avoided this worst-case scenario, but partisan politics derailed and delayed other important legislation that will affect all Americans next year and beyond.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' sterling credit rating by one notch in August, the first cut since the U.S. was awarded an AAA rating 70 years ago. The agency said the budget savings approved by the deficit commission fell short of what is needed to restore America back to fiscal health.

Washington's most egregious blunder is probably the failure of the 12-person "supercommittee" that was given the task to find at least $1.2 trillion in savings in the national budget. And more recently, DC lawmakers left for the holidays unable to agree on an extension of the payroll tax cut, which at midnight on Dec. 31 expires. More than 160 million Americans will take home smaller paychecks in 2012.

As politicians turn their attention to the 2012 elections, many key decisions will likely be punted to the 2013 Congress. With an approval rating of just 11%, Congress has a brand new year to impress and charm the American people.

For more, see:

Politics 2012: Obama Will Rise Above D.C. Dysfunction and GOP, Ian Bremmer Says

5 Consequences If America Doesn't Raise the Debt Ceiling

Debt Ceiling Deadlock: Why Markets Don't Seem to Care

U.S. Hits the Debt Ceiling: What Does It All Mean?

Debt Ceiling Deadline Pushed Back: Will the GOP Budge?

Rep. Levin: GOP "Playing With Fire" On Debt Ceiling Vote

Debt Ceiling Vote a "Political Sideshow", Mish Says: Real Issue Is "Govt. Spending Run Amok"

"No Downside" to Not Raising the Debt Ceiling, Says Chris Whalen

Debt Ceiling Debate: The GOP Is "Blackmailing the American People," Sen. Bernie Sanders Says

Debt Ceiling Uncertainty: Big Banks Take Evasive Action, The FT Says

Deep Recession & Financial Chaos: "Very Dark Scenario" If Debt Ceiling Isn't Raised, Zandi Says

Finally, Someone Is Talking Sense On Our Huge Debt And Deficit Problem — President Obama

What If? "Huge Interest Rate Risk" If No Deal on Debt Ceiling, David Walker Says

"Dangerous Precedent" Being Set in Debt Ceiling Debate, Galbraith Says

It's Time to Roll Back Big Government: Rep. Ron Paul Says 'No' to Debt Ceiling Increase

Jared Bernstein's Getting Nervous About Aug. 2 "But I Think We'll Have a Deal"


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