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.
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