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Can Washington's lame duck walk into the new year?

This was a remarkably productive lame-duck session that required compromise between Republicans and Democrats. Now that Americans have tasted that, they'll want more -- not less.

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Turning out the lights on an unusually productive lame-duck session yesterday, President Obama pronounced it a “season of progress”:

“We’ve shown in the wake of the November elections that we have the capacity not only to make progress, but to make progress together.”

In just a few weeks, Democrats and Republicans put bows on tax cuts, unemployment benefits, gay rights in the military, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, food safety, judicial appointments, and health care for 9/11 first responders.

They were not lovey-dovey about it, but they got the job done on some big items, and that is something many Americans will appreciate – even if some question the validity of a lame-duck session at all. Still, can a season of bipartisanship transform into a lasting New Year’s resolution?

It helps to look at what led to this flurry of agreements. First was the Democratic electoral shellacking that put Obama in a mood to compromise on tax cuts.

That major deal – and the president’s willingness to stick to it in the face of strong criticism from his liberal base – laid the foundation for further agreements.

Other factors contributed: a looming deadline in which tax cuts and jobless benefits would run out, legislation that had general public support, outgoing members of Congress who didn’t have to worry about the next election and – not insignificant – Republicans and Democrats actually talking to each other.

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