To be honest, the bipartisan deal struck by conferees in the House and the Senate comes as a bit of a shock. Unlike recent similar bipartisan panels (think: Biden Group, Gang of Six, and the so-called "super committee"), these negotiations actually produced an agreement -- and not at the last minute!
It's a far cry for Washington's "Fourth Estate," which has grown accustomed to writing stories about gridlock, failed compromise, and Beltway bickering in a divided congress.
The deal would extend unemployment benefits and prolong the payroll tax cut holiday through the end of 2012. (When passing the temporary two-month extension last December, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle referred to the extra savings as taxpayers' "Christmas gift." If it passes, it looks like it will be the gift that keeps on giving!)
The agreement would also prevent large reimbursement cuts to doctors who treat Medicare patients. A vote could come before Congress breaks for recess for President's Day.
Contrary to their earlier position, Republicans agreed to extend the payroll tax cut without finding spending cuts elsewhere to offset the $100 billion price tag. Negotiators, however, did find $50 billion in savings to pay for the "doc fix" and unemployment benefits.
The deal would also tighten up standards for welfare recipients and unemployed jobseekers receiving public assistance.
So why the deal? In the end, Republicans knew they had to extend the payroll tax cut. They couldn't afford to lose their vaunted reputation as the party of low taxes: not to President Obama and the Democrats -- and especially not in an election year.
But don't expect compromise to become the norm in Washington. After all, there's an election less than 10 months away.