What needs to be done? Quite a bit, actually. On critical issues like budget and sequestration, health care reform, and expiring tax cuts. From law firm Patton Boggs:
“To put matters in perspective: Unless current law is amended, all of the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, as will various other temporary tax provisions. Congress and the Administration also must decide how to protect physicians serving Medicare patients from sustaining steep cuts in reimbursement rates and whether to extend enhanced unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed. In addition, decisions need to be made whether to extend, replace, or allow to lapse the two percentage point payroll tax cut for all working Americans. Finally, $109 billion in across-the-board spending cuts (“sequestration”) mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will begin to kick in on January 2. Half of the automatic spending cuts will hit the Pentagon, while the other half will reduce spending by the rest of the government, with most agencies facing funding cuts of 8.2%. In popular parlance, the United States will fall off a fiscal cliff with potentially no safety net in place unless the President and the Congress agree to amend current law.”
And that’s just the first two months. For the rest, read Patton Boggs’ 124-page comprehensive guide to the major policy areas that will drive the country’s political agenda for the next two years: 2012 Post-Election Analysis: A Narrowly Divided Electorate Has Spoken: How Will The President and The Congress Respond?
A great companion piece that will help you understand the individual players and the congressional committees they staff is K&L Gates’ complete guide to who’s out, who’s in, and who they represent: 2012 Election Guide: A Guide to Changes in Congress