Analysis: Why the Fiscal Cliff Proves Congress Is Dysfunctional

According to a ProPublica investigation, Republicans redistricting efforts were bolstered by millions in corporate donations from companies such as tobacco giant Altria. Democrats also relied on corporate contributions to hold on to a hotly-contested Senate seat in the GOP-friendly state of Montana.

The results of the 2012 election and the redistricting process are likely to maintain the level of gridlock in the House of Representatives, according to a study released in November by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

"Over the next decade, Americans will likely see lower turnover of seats from one party to the other and see that the disappearance of moderate members of both parties will continue to decrease," the study says.

Should gridlock become the new norm, the possibility of a grand bargain on budgetary issues could become increasingly unlikely. And if Congress and the president can only reach a limited agreement surrounding the fiscal cliff now and are forced to take up issues like the debt limit and sequester cuts next year, that could take away time from dealing with Obama's policy agenda in a second term, such as immigration and gun violence, which he named during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday.

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