The first session of the 112th Congress is ending essentially where it began: in a political stalemate.
Earlier this year, it took the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the Obama White House until the last minute to avert a government shutdown, which would have furloughed much of the federal workforce.
In the summer, those three bodies battled over raising the debt ceiling. And while they eventually raised it -- again at the last second -- the process led Standard & Poor's to downgrade the United States' credit rating.
And now they're now engaged in a political food fight over extending the payroll tax cut, which expires on Dec. 31.
This constant brinksmanship -- over people's employment, the U.S. credit rating, and Americans' tax cuts -- isn't endearing itself to the public.
According to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, 42% called this Congress' performance "one of the worst" ever, the highest percentage on this question that dates back to 1990. Another 33% called the Congress "below average." So that's three-quarters of the public giving the Congress unsatisfactory grade.
What's more, 69% said they disapproved of the job that Republicans in Congress are doing, while 62% disapprove of the job Democrats are doing.
And asked what the public considers most disappointing about the current Congress, 28% cited partisan disagreement and not getting anything done; 17% said the GOP leadership is unwilling to compromise with Democrats; and 13% agreed that not enough is being done to fix the economy.