ELECTION 2012: Morning-after reality: No easy answers to gridlock

From illegal immigrants to defense contractors and millionaires to Medicaid patients, Americans had plenty riding on Tuesday’s outcome — but few were expecting the election to provide answers to the gridlock that has prevented Washington from tackling the big issues

The agenda is extensive and seemingly growing longer every week: Another trillion-dollar deficit is looming in 2013, debt has topped $16 trillion, the immigration system is broken, the tax code needs an overhaul, gas prices and unemployment remain stubbornly high, a final decision on the Keystone pipeline lingers, Iran’s nuclear program looms ever larger, and al Qaeda may be resurgent in parts of the Middle East.

Some problems won’t even wait for Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

The new year will usher in higher income taxes across the board as the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are due to expire Jan. 1.

One day later, the $110 billion in automatic spending “sequesters” set in motion by last year’s debt deal take effect, slashing equally from defense and domestic spending.

But an angry electorate begging for change did little to upset the balance of power in Washington, where gridlock has reigned and shows no signs of letting up.

“There are lots of things we have failed to do for a very long time, but that is not to say that we won’t fail to do them a bit longer,” said William A. Galston, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution.

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