OK, so the GOP now has control over the House, and the Democrats the Senate. What will that mean?
Some are saying the the GOP will become more reasonable now. That they will not follow people like Issa who want to do nothing in the House but investigate Obama 24/7, using the power to prosecute as a means to dredge up public distrust and hopefully some slime like they did back in the 90′s. These optimists are saying that the Republicans will actually have to deliver something, do something productive in order to stay afloat, which means they may actually have to compromise on a few things.
I desperately hope I am wrong, but I simply cannot imagine that happening. I made that mistake in 2008, naively opining about “Obama Republicans” and how lashing out and going balls-to-the-wall obstructionist would hurt them. Boy, was I wrong. And I have seen nothing to make me believe that Republicans will suddenly change now.
I could be wrong again, but I think it’s a safe bet that we will just see them alter their tactics, not reverse them. I think they will start ramming through legislation in the House just like they did in the Bush years, going back to being far more oppressive to Democrats than the Democrats ever were to them (despite their constant whining that the Dems were worst of all). And the legislation they will pass will be stuff they know will never make it into law–mostly because it will never be intended to become law, but instead will be designed to make them look good and the Dems look bad.
The Republican leadership has already made it clear that their first priority will not be to fix the economy, create jobs, or do anything else constructive. Instead, their number-one priority is to defeat Obama in 2012. That rules out compromise, even if they had not made it crystal clear over the last decade that the last thing they would ever do is compromise. They would sooner scorch the earth.
I think that the first thing they will do is to start in on the tax situation. They know Obama will fight any attempt to reinstate Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, but with control over the House, which they will strictly maintain with harsh discipline (again, as they have in the past), they will only allow tax bills to pass with the Bush cuts included. Then expect a rabid campaign where they will claim that Obama and the Dems are raising your taxes, blocking middle-class tax cuts, because all they want to do is penalize small businesses and tax them into oblivion. Yes, I know that the opposite was clearly demonstrated before the election, but the Republicans excel at remaking reality and rewriting history, and the American people have amply demonstrated that they can be easily fooled in this way. And Democrats will likely again fail to get their point across.
What we may in fact begin to see is big pressure against blue-dog Democrats, maybe even nullifying the Democratic majority in the Senate, even perhaps forcing Democrats to either begin filibustering legislation here and there (which Republicans will inevitably make big noises about), or allowing legislation to pass for Obama to veto.
And the legislation, as I indicated, will be designed to look great–but if passed, would sink the economy. It will be filled with tax cuts and other assorted right-wing goodies that the Republicans know the Dems will never go for, but they will look attractive and the Republicans will use them as cudgels, claiming the Democrats are the obstructionists and the Republicans were prevented from fixing the economy. A lie which they will not hesitate to scream from the rooftops, a claim that would have been true had Democrats run under it this year but they somehow fumbled and cowered into corners as usual.
As I said, I hope I am wrong. I would be happy to see Congress actually address issues in a spirit of actual bipartisanship and compromise. Obama has been all too willing to go there, and the Democrats too weak-kneed to do much else. Republicans, however, by their actions and rhetoric, have given no indication that they would even consider such a thing.