In political terms, the story on Capitol Hill is a familiar tightrope walk. Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, don't want to alienate their left wing, but at the same time don't want to anger independents who tend to be centrists. House Republicans, led by Boehner, don't want to alienate their right wing, especially the Tea Party activists, and also don't want to anger those same centrist independents.
Many of the principal players, including Obama, Reid, and Boehner, say they seek a profound debate about what Americans want their federal government to be, how much help Washington should give individuals and businesses, and how much individuals and businesses should rely on themselves. But given our polarized nation, our divided capital, and our harsh political climate, it's likely that the coming battles will generate a lot more heat than light.