The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 2, 2013

Fiscal cliff thoughts: a new governing coalition? Let's hope so

— The biggest takeaway I get from the whole fiscal cliff fiasco is this: There could finally  be emerging a new bipartisan coalition that doesn't need the extremists of either party or their lobby groups.

Why do I say this? The fiscal cliff coalition was successful on a very divisive issue given the current makeup of Congress, where we assume that party members stick together.

But members of the same party didn't really stick together. There's a crack in that partisan armor. That's hope.

Dozens of Republicans in the House broke with their obstructionist faction. Lots of Republicans in the Senate voted with their leader, Mitch McConnell, who struck on old fashioned bargain with his longtime Democratic friend.

Unfortunately it took McConnell and his old friend from the Senate Joe Biden to get this done. That doesn't really speak very well for Democractic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, unless of course, you could believe the punditry that said Reid and Biden did a "Good-cop, Bad-cop" routine on McConnell.

Biden, of course, being the good cop and Reid the bad.

I don't think it came down to that though. I think McConnell got serious about this upstart Republican House opposition and decided he'd be more influential cutting a deal that got overwhelming Republican support in the Senate.

That would make it extremely difficult for Republicans in the House to vote against a bipartisan measure, especially one that if you vote no, you vote to raise taxes on all Americans.

McConnell won in more ways than we think.

What's hopeful, though, coming out of this, is a chance for a truly bipartisan majority that can get more and more things done.

If Republicans in the Senate can agree with Democrats on taxes, can they agree on the government debt ceiling limit? Can they agree on immigration? Can they agree on tax reform and deficit reduction?

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