Today we've made it not only to the end of another working week but almost to the end of another year! In this week's Friday Flashback — our weekly review and analysis of the news — we're going to take the longview of 2013.
To help us wrap up this year's biggest political stories and explain how they got us to where we are now, we're joined in studio by James Rainey of the LA Times and Alex Seitz-Wald of National Journal.
We start all the way back in January of 2013 when President Obama was being sworn in for his second term in office. He was facing a bitterly partisan Washington, the Newtown shooting was in recent memory. What did his agenda looked like back then?
In February we were all talk of the sequester, which we may need to remind you were those across-the-board automatic spending cuts. The President offered a plan to postpone it, Republicans rejected it, the public seemed bored by it all, and the media seemed confused.
Both Republicans and Democrats must have seen some political advantage in allowing the cuts to go into effect, because they did on — March 1st — but with kind of wimper. Who won here in the end?
In April, the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly detonated two bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring over 200 others. There was extensive talk at the time of how this could have been prevented but Alex, in the end did it change any policy?
In May, a subcontractor for the NSA by the name of Edward Snowden leaked confidential information about the mass surveillance of Americans. That sparked a huge debate in this country about the level of autonomy provided to the NSA. The members of the White House review panel on data surveillance will appear before the Senate judiciary committee in just a few weeks. What are the longterm effects here?
At the beginning of the month, Republican Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho announced he was leaving the House's 'Gang of Eight', the bipartisan group drafting an immigration reform bill. He said he couldn't come to an agreement with the others on healthcare for undocumented immigrants. A few weeks later the Senate passed its own comprehensive immigration bill, but Labrador's departure seemed to signal the unraveling of an agreement in the House.
It seemed there was broad consensus when we started 2013, even among republicans, about the need for an immigration bill, but why did it ultimately fail?
In July we had the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, who was on trial for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It was a racial flashpoint for the country and we also had President Obama's speech where he compared himself to Trayvon Martin. What is the lasting significance of this case?
In September, Syria dominated the news. The President asked Congress to approve a military strike to punish the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons. That split lawmakers, and Russia ultimately stepped in to offer a diplomatic solution that seemed to improve President Putin's position at the expense of President Obama's. How will this chapter will be remembered for President Obama?
October brought both a temporary shutdown of the federal government and the open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Let's start first with the shutdown, which lasted 15 whole days, making it only the third longest in our history. What impact did that have, both practically and politically?
We've talked so much about healthcare. What are your predictions for how the events of the past year and the fumbles with the federal website will be remembered in President Obama's legacy?
It seems the President had quite a wild ride of 2013 and in the end he seemed to annoy everyone, while Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner seemed to start the year in the doghouse but has perhaps emerged victorious after standing up to some fringe elements in his party.
Speaker John Boehner led a Congress that, according to a poll conducted by CNN this week, two-thirds of Americans say is the worst Congress they can remember in their lifetime.