2011 has been a year where Congress faced many challenges in reaching compromise. Will that trend continue into this next election year?
Steve Chiotakis: It's been a sharply partisan year for Congress. The payroll tax cut extension was just one of those fights. Congress worked out a two month deal that extends the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits -- but that deal only lasts through February.
Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports now we can look forward to even more partisan sniping in 2012.
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: The fighting will only get worse next year because it's an election year. A conference committee of House and Senate members will try to hammer out a compromise on whether to keep the payroll tax deal through the end of 2012.
In the middle of last week's partisanship, President Obama wondered why Congress couldn't compromise, when the majority wanted to continue the payroll tax break.
Barack Obama: I mean has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree on things we can't do it?
The immediate debate is how to pay for a year-long payroll tax cut. Oh, and once Congress resolves that? It has to decide whether to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. They expire at the end of next year.
And don't forget the looming battle over automatic budget cuts scheduled for 2013. Some members of Congress want to spare the Pentagon and other domestic programs from the axe.
In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.