With negotiations on the fiscal cliff seemingly going nowhere, it's hard to imagine ever even getting to the next Congress. But the new Congress is fast-approaching, and with it the opportunity to tackle new problems. And while Democrats and Republicans are wont to disagree on just about everything, the latest National Journal Political Insiders poll shows Insiders from both parties generally agree on which issues such be their top legislative priorities.
Fifty-six percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats say taxes should be the number one issue for both parties next year. The hope from both parties is that with the fiscal cliff in the rearview mirror there may be a chance for actual comprehensive tax reform.
In the new Congress, what should be your party's top legislative priority?
"Tax reform is long overdue," said one Republican insider. Both sides agree it needs to be done, but also want to make sure that their own party keeps its eye on the ball.
"If we get tax reform wrong then we really are doomed as a party," said one Republican Insider. And while Republicans often see taxes as a strength over Democrats, their colleagues on the left aren't ready to concede the issue.
"Now is the time for major tax reform - corporate, payroll, income, capital gains," said one Democratic Insider. "It's the right policy priority, and if done proactively, Democrats will have strength in what could otherwise be an area favorable to Republicans."
Meanwhile, 29 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats said immigration should be the top priority. "It's the Hispanics, stupid," said one Republican Insider. "The Republican Party needs meaningful immigration reform to avoid long-term irrelevance," said another.
Democratic Insiders also recognize the key role that Hispanics played in the last election and say they need to do right by them. "The Latino vote was decisive in many key states, we need to keep our promise to push for comprehensive immigration reform," said one Democrat.
A handful of respondents on both sides of the aisle responded that issues like Social Security, education and health care should be the top priority. One major difference between the parties: Eight percent of Democrats said climate change should be the top issue compared to zero Republicans.