The lengthy and heated budget storm in Washington is zig-zagging toward a compromise that will in the end not have much of an effect on reducing the federal government’s deficits or national debt. Any foreseeable compromise will also not rule out future budget stalemates (e.g. on raising the debt ceiling). Any compromise in the works will additionally not reduce unemployment and underemployment, not reign in rising health costs, and not ameliorate the crisis. The list of important neglected issues does not end there. The compromises being considered would not lower the poverty rate, food insecurity, or other unmet needs associated with low incomes (i.e., 200% of the poverty line and below).

The political leaders will also forego any decisions on making college more affordable and not forgive the enormous college debts so many students carry. The compromise in the making does not tackle big corporate or bank power. There’s nothing in the discussions about breaking up the big banks so that “too big to fail” ceases to be an escape hatch for the most reckless and sometimes criminal banksters’ operations. Government subsidies will continue going to fossil fuel companies. Medicare will not be allowed to bargain over drug prices with the pharmaceutical corporations, though Obama may give a nod to such a provision as a bargaining chip. Higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends may surface in the discussions but are overshadowed by Obama’s determination to let the Bush-era tax rates on the highest 2 percent of incomes expire in January, which would represent a tax increase on individuals and households with the highest incomes. Campaign finance reform is not a part of the compromise-focused discussions, which by default lets the political system remain at least semi-plutocratic.

Don’t forget the most important issue before the nation and world, that is, how President Obama and both political parties have marginalized as an issue the earth-changing and accelerating climate change that scientists continue to document across the planet. There is an international climate summit being held in Doha, Qatar this week, and based on-the-ground interviews by Amy Goodman and her colleagues at Democracy Now the U.S. delegation is the playing an obstructionist role with respect to any possible international agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions or on paying into a fund that would assist poor nations in building environmentally sustainable economies.

Why is it so hard, but likely, that the parties will reach some compromise if not by January 1 not long afterward.

First, it is not always hard. There are some issues on which Obama and the Congress can reach bipartisan agreement. Neither the Obama nor Boehner plans will cut back spending on the military budget. Indeed, on December 5, the Senate, including Sherrod Brown, voted 98 to 0 in support of the core 2013 military budget of $631 billion. Along with a lopsided House vote, this military spending and wars are among those topics that generate high fives across party lines.

There will be a compromise on the “fiscal cliff” disagreements for several reasons. First, opinion polls indicate the majority of respondents want the federal government to reach a compromise. A Gallup poll conducted on Dec. 1-2 found that 62 percent of those questioned agreed that President Obama and Congress should compromise and avoid the fiscal cliff. Second, the Congressional Budget Office, research are of the Congress, has predicted that there will be a recession in the absence of a compromise that avoids the automatic cuts (i.e., sequestration) that would occur in the absence of a compromise. Third, the Obama administration appears willing to submit to a compromise with the Republicans, even with some onerous changes in Medicare, if they support his demand for an increase in the tax rates for the richest two percent. Fourth, the Republican pro-rich and –corporate policies are not now in fashion, at least with respect to the fiscal cliff controversy, causing the party leaders to move away from the uncompromising demands of the tea-party faction.

What’s one to make of all this? The eventual compromise will reveal again how dysfunctional and limited in policy making capacity the federal government is on many issues of importance to the majority of Americans. This may be good news to Republicans and some Democrats and many of the 57 million citizens who voted for Mitt Romney – and for corporate America. But the deficits and national debt will grow, inequality will remain at historically high levels, the rich, big banks, and corporate CEOs will prosper, the costs of medical care will continue to rise, the military budget will continue on its merry way, the budgets of cities will go on floundering, the millions of people who are experiencing a housing crisis can expect little relief, and the planet will continue to heat up. At the same time, this upcoming oh-so-limited compromise will be face-saving for our leaders in Washington. With more to come