The problem is usually denigrated as gridlock and laid at the feet of historically obstructionist Republicans. But none of that is true. Congress has been able to pass all sorts of stupid and generally terrible legislation under Obama and the fiscal cliff deal, whatever its particulars, merely underscores that fact.
The true obstructionists in Congress, at least when it comes to budget issues, are Senate Democrats, who haven’t completed any serious work in years. More specifically, the blame falls to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and budget committee chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota. After a decades-long career in which he is inevitably held up as a great statesman – despite his inability to produce, much less push, a budget – Conrad is finally retiring. So maybe that will change finally.