The $858 billion tax deal approved by Congress Thursday is "all candy and no spinach," but at least it shows that President Barack Obama and Republicans can cooperate on fiscal issues.
But their new detente will be tested early next year when the budget deficit looms larger on the political landscape.
Analysts are skeptical this week's pact can be leveraged into a broad deficit-cutting program, and fear the deficit issue could be kicked forward to the 2012 election.
The tax deal makes the deficit bigger — just the opposite of what bond markets want — and it threatens to move taxes off the bargaining table in next year's struggles over federal spending and raising the government debt ceiling.
At the same time, it was expected to give the economy a boost, and if that gets more Americans working, meaningful deficit reduction could be a little easier.
A presidential commission's aggressive plan to slash the $1.3 trillion deficit earlier this month won more bipartisan support than expected.
"It's very likely that parts of the commission's plan end up in the president's budget... Otherwise, he sends some very disturbing signals," said Maya MacGuineas, fiscal policy director at the New America Foundation think tank.
For the record, now Obama has to go along with massive spending cuts as outlined by the Catfood Commission, or he's not a serious President. The ink isn't even dry on the tax cut deal. And now he's already taking the blame for not cutting the deficit.
Not even a "thank you" from the rich. Nope, it's right into "we expect to see the Catfood Commission's economic plans in the President's budget or else." Not even 24 hours before we're back to HE MUST CUT SPENDING NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW.
Good work on that, big guy.