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Christmas in July

If Kmart and QVC can celebrate Christmas in July, so can Congress.

Here we sit in December, well into Hanukkah with Christmas bearing down on everyone. And Congress isn't even within a galaxy of completing its work for the year.

Reminds me of John Lennon's song "Happy Christmas."

"So this is Christmas...And what have you done?"

Well, the annual spending bills to run the government were supposed to be finished by October 1, the start of the federal, fiscal year.

President Obama announced a framework for a deal on renewing tax cuts Monday night.

They've only had since either 2001 or 2003 to forge an agreement on those before they expire December 31. And I haven't even mentioned efforts to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Or ratification of the START treaty. Or efforts to offer citizenship to some illegal immigrants who are in school or the military.

'Tis the season to be cranky.

In July, Kmart throws open its "Christmas Lane" so people get a five-month head start on scarfing up ornaments and lights. And QVC proclaims it's "time to stock up for the holidays" by throwing jewelry and toys on sale in July.

QVC tells its viewers that "these holly, jolly deals end at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 25, so shop now!"

In other words, there's a deadline.

And everyone knows that Congress can never ever, ever, ever finish all of its work unless its collective back is right up against the wall.

So Congress faces mountain of work to escape Washington before Christmas. Lawmakers could be here for a few more weeks.

To paraphrase the Little Drummer Boy, the ox and lamb aren't the only ones keeping time when it comes to Congress.

"I consider leaving Christmas Eve day a good thing and then I work back from there,' said a senior House Democratic leadership aide.

That's because the ghost of Christmas past haunts the halls of Congress. Specifically, the ghost of Christmas 2009.

The entire Congressional community suffers from a form of trauma after last year's Yuletide exercises. In 2009, the Senate remained in session nearly-around the clock, even voting late on Saturday night and at 1 am on a Monday just after a blizzard. The piece de resistance came on Christmas Eve day as the Senate approved the health care reform bill in a pre-dawn session.

So maybe Congress should retro-fit the July calendar to read December. That way, everyone can be coaxed to work like dogs in the sultry Washington heat to finish up all of the "must-do" items in the summer.

Then when the chill winds of December whip the Capitol dome, everyone can skip town for Tahiti because the heavy lifting is done.

But Congress is here. With little end in sight.

Deck the halls? Everyone's about to deck each other.

The holiday season started out over the weekend as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called two votes Saturday morning after he failed to secure an agreement with Republicans on a series of tax cut proposals.

How you can tell it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Everyone in Congress is taking their Maalox and high blood pressure medication.

It's not going to get much better.

When President Obama rolled out his proposed compromise agreement to re-up the tax cuts last night, he faced a political gale on Capitol Hill.

"I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don't like. In fact, there are things in here that I don't like," Mr. Obama said.

Don't like? Many Congressional liberals and progressives feel alienated with this deal. They believe he's thrown them under the bus. Then the bus backed up and ran over them three of four times. After that, the bus's oil pan sprung a leak and oil is spewed all over them. And finally, once the bus pulled away, the county road crew came along and painted a divider stripe right over top of their carcass as it turns to carrion in the center of the highway.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) accused President Obama of "punting on third down."

"House Democrats haven't agreed to anything yet. Any package needs to be thoroughly reviewed and discussed in the caucus," cautioned a senior House Democratic aide.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), a leading progressive voice in the House, penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), urging Democrats to "oppose acceding to Republican demands."

Welch closed the letter by saying the president "should not back down. Nor should we."

Packaged as part of this plan is a year-long extension of unemployment insurance for persons off the job for 99 weeks. This is unpaid for. Which is precisely the scenario that induced a summertime filibuster by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY). And that's to say nothing of concerns from fiscally-conscious, moderate Democrats known as Blue Dogs who insist on paying for government expenditures.

Just think how much easier it would have been to tackle this around the time of theMajor League Baseball All-Star game. Or at least before Albert Haynesworth of the Washington Redskins failed his first conditioning test at training camp.

In the 1966 musical "Mame," Angela Lansbury sang that they "need a little Christmas, right this very minute."

And on Capitol Hill, it's clear that lawmakers "need a little Christmas" to force them to finish their work for the year.