As members of the 111th Congress look back on 2010, they will see anything but a do-nothing session. From banning drop-side cribs, to freezing their own salaries for the second year in a row, to overhauling the food inspection system, to telling airlines not to charge fees for carry-on luggage, the Democratically controlled House and Senate passed bills at a feverish pace in the past year.

But several developments stand out for the breadth of their impact. They may not all be popular, as evidenced by the November “shellacking” that Democrats took in the midterm elections, but the following congressional actions in 2010 — and in one case inaction — will affect hundreds millions of Americans in the next year and beyond.
1. Extending the Bush Tax Cuts.
2. Reforming the Health Insurance System.
3. Overhauling Federal Student Loans.
4. Failing to pass the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.
5. Overseeing a $1.29 Trillion Increase in the Deficit.

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