Therapists often refer to the dynamics between people as a dance- where each side moves in response to the other, which then results in a rhythmic and predictable pattern of behavior. Here in DC the two major parties continue their budget negotiation dance- and unfortunately it appears that they have not been able to learn any new steps, which has kept us close to a free fall, even though the original deadline for a resolution has come and gone. The best they have been able to achieve so far is budget bungee jumping- with the sheer fall being averted by the use of interim deals that act like cords from which our economy bounces helplessly up and down.
Public outrage and dire warnings about the consequences of not reaching a solution have prompted the limited action that has been taken so far- but each time, any movement forward is interrupted by resistance from the other side of the aisle. It seems that everyone wants to lead, no one wants to follow, and there are hidden agendas everywhere- the primary one appearing to be that of maintaining the status quo.
What outcomes can we realistically expect given the dynamics and past performance of this congress? Most likely there will be a series of votes scheduled over an extended period of time that keep us suspended in fiscal limbo until something comes along that unites and galvanizes our representatives. Unfortunately this could be a serious threat from the inside or outside that puts us all back on the same team, united against a common enemy. According to many economists, if sequestration happens, the fall out would have a significant impact which could lead to an urgent mandate from the populace that demands action if representatives (especially republicans) hope to keep their jobs.
Given these possible scenarios it is likely there will be passage of 11th hour legislation. However, it will probably be designed to stop the bleeding but not fully address the larger problem in a long term and comprehensive way. It’s an easy bet that task will be left for a future congress willing and able to finally deal with the challenge of our nation’s fiscal health.