President Obama and Congress in 2009

Thomas Mann says that while the legislative process was hyper-partisan and the horse-trading in the Senate over the health care bill verged on tawdry, President Obama worked with Congress to achieve substantial accomplishments in 2009.

Between the emergency legislation to address the economic crisis early in the year and the health care bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, Mann says Congress made progress on bills that would be judged significant in more ordinary times.

The economy and the mood of the voters in 2010's off-year elections will determine whether the president and the Democratic majorities in Congress will continue to chalk up victories, or whether partisanship and legislative gridlock will expand.