Change Watch: The lame-duck session is about as good as it's going to get

With all appreciation due for the passage of START (thanks Sen. Kerry and Sen. Lugar),  the end of the cruel and ridiculous DADT policy (you, too, Sen. Reid and Sen. Lieberman), improved food safety, and watered-down health care for 9/11 responders, the extension of the Bush tax cuts makes clear that Congress is not ready to make the really tough decisions that would get the country moving again. As Kevin Drum wrote last month in Mother Jones (Willful Self Destruction 2010-11-30), "We need:
A big stimulus now aimed at infrastructure development. A credible plan to close the long-term deficit that acknowledges the need for tax increases to be part of the solution. A serious and sustained effort at reining in healthcare costs and broadening access. A collective decision to cut out the culture war nonsense and figure out how to improve our educational system with no more than modest spending increases. Real financial reform, not the weak tea of Dodd-Frank. Less spending on empire building and much, much more spending on real sustainable energy development and engineering.
Little to none of this will happen -- we'll be lucky to emerge from the next congress with Social Security and Medicare intact -- unless there is a revolutionary change in the way we conduct our political business. With Nancy Pelosi reduced to minority leader and the White House and the Senate dominated by conservatives and bogus pragmatists standing in the way of change, there is little hope of reversing our long, slow economic decline.

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