While politicians can be expected to pay far more attention to political decisions than the average voter will, the nature of that attention is also likely to be different. Elected officials top priority is usually getting re-elected, and their time horizon seldom extends beyond the next election. Laws and policies that will produce politically beneficial effects before the next election are usually preferred to policies that will produce even better results some time after the next election. Indeed, policies that will produce good results before the next election may be preferred even if they can be expected to produce bad results afterwards.
And from Frederic Bastiat's 1848 essay Government:
The new Government is no less embarrassed than the former one, for it soon finds that it is much more easy to promise than to perform. It tries to gain time, for this is necessary for maturing its vast projects. At first, it makes a few timid attempts. On one hand it institutes a little elementary instruction; on the other, it makes a little reduction in some taxes. But the contradiction is forever starting up before it; if it would be philanthropic, it must attend to its exchequer; if it neglects its exchequer, it must abstain from being philanthropic.
These two promises are for ever clashing with each other; it cannot be otherwise. To live upon credit, which is the same as exhausting the future, is certainly a present means of reconciling them: an attempt is made to do a little good now, at the expense of a great deal of harm in future.
Today's economist speaks of today's political reality; "policies that will produce good results before the next election may be preferred even if they can be expected to produce bad results afterwards." Which is the same reality Bastiat spoke of 164 years ago; "an attempt is made to do a little good now, at the expense of a great deal of harm in the future."
Thus, the "fiscal cliff" resolution will be little more than a kicking of cans past the next election. The good news is, life in these United States---164 years of political reality notwithstanding---ain't all that bad...