1. TAXES Taxes are on the tip of everyone's tongue since the issue must be resolved, in part, by year-end when Bush-era policies expire. If that happens, wealthy Americans will see taxes soar. Tax rates on dividends, capital gains and inheritances will also rise dramatically. The so-called "death tax" has been a particularly hot-button issue among voters and deficit hawks. Wealthy celebrities who passed on in 2010
Energy-and-climate reform was near the top of Democrats' list of things to get done last legislative session.
3. (ACTUAL) ECONOMIC STIMULUS
Congress outlined $787 billion in tax benefits, direct spending, loans and entitlements in February 2009. In July, it also extended unemployment benefits for four more months, at a cost of $34 billion. Lawmakers also offered another $42 billion in aid for small-business last month.
4. HOUSING REFORM
One might have thought Congress would address the central cause of the financial crisis in the sweeping financial reform bill it passed last summer. But the housing industry is still in such a precarious state that lawmakers, in conjunction with the Obama administration's policymakers, decided that tackling the great mortgage debate was best left 'til 2011.
Just when you thought health care and financial reform were over, Wall Street lobbyists are coming back for a second round. Regulators and corporations will be seeking so-called "corrections" to both legislative coups in 2011, as they sort out the best way to implement the details of broad reform measures.