What Now?

November 3rd, 2010

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.

  1. Luis
    November 3rd, 2010 at 22:31 | #1

    At least in the House, I note that Blue Dogs got decimated: about half of the 50 or so lost their elections. Which means that voting against their party apparently won them no respect from constituents.

  2. Troy
    November 4th, 2010 at 00:02 | #2

    The top-bracket cuts are going to have to go through now in the lame duck.

    They couldn’t get it done before the election and the American people certainly have spoken as it were.

    It’s only $70B/yr.

    Part of the reason the Dems got shellacked is that it’s not possible for the House to “fix the economy”. Is the Japanese economy fixed after 20 years of trying?

    What is wrong with the economy? Obviously, lack of good jobs. The Bush Boom was good times for many people but that was being funded by massive trade deficits with China and Japan and the ephemeral home equity borrowing made available by bubble land valuations.

    Affordable Care Act was oddly structured to survive this event I think. It only fires up the Death Panels etc in 2014.

    As for respect from constituents, Feingold lost. Turnout is estimated to be 41.4%. Abysmal. Nation of idiots.

    In this vacuum the Birchers and radical right is as strong as they’ve ever been.

    But there’s still that 60% that didn’t vote.

    2011 & 2012 is going to be a real battle royale. I recommend unplugging the internet and using the time more wisely : )

    Be thankful you’re a PR of somewhere else.

  3. Ken sensei
    November 4th, 2010 at 11:45 | #3

    spelling error alert in paragraph 5 “number-on priority…”

  4. Tim Kane
    November 4th, 2010 at 23:31 | #4

    Well the Great Recession (Great Depression II) just got a massive extension.

    There is a possibility that Republican’s might feel some burden to act responsibly… after all they now share in the burden of ruling, but if they can position themselves as not sharing in this burden, – and if they could make John Kerry look like a traitor instead of a hero they can make themselves look like non sharing in this burden – they will not cooperate in ruling the country.

    I would prefer gridlock to continuation of the tax cuts of the rich, those tax cuts are national suicide that we are living through slow motion wise now.

    Unfortunately, Uncle Barack is already saying he’ll go along with that… what a friggin dolt, he better get a pound of concessions from the Republican bastards for that kind of concession… like a massive stimulus (that would save his political prospects)… but I’m quite sure that his close ties to Wall Street means that he’s willing to give away the store and now he can use the election as a pretext.

    We are two years into the great recession. It is likely going to get worse. Much worse for ordinary people. If so, they’ll have the choice of voting for a Wall Street candidate in Obama or a Wall Street candidate from the Republican party. If we are lucky, they’ll go with the Republican party. Then we’ll go into a much steeper dive still, but then, and maybe only then, MAYBE, they’ll abandone the Democratic establishment and move to the left.

    Sure the Republicans could act responsibly, but then Democrats could grow a spine and Obama could embrace the progressive populist politics that got him elected. I think we all know that aint going to happen. So then all we are left with is blood, sweat and tears.

    ….And pain. Lots of pain. And, for a very very long time to come.

  5. Troy
    November 5th, 2010 at 03:31 | #5

    MAYBE, they’ll abandone the Democratic establishment and move to the left

    Not in this media environment. We only have to look at GK’s posts here to see how screwed up people are.

    The continuation of the tax cuts on the upper 2% is a good example too. The propaganda is winning over the facts. This can continue for a very long time, now that many things are broken there’s no way to say it’s conservative policies — free trade, union-busting, tax cuts, causing the damage.

    We’re going to go into polarization mode, and probably lose the Senate in 2012 given the number of Dem seats coming up.

    I don’t know how Obama will fare in 2012. There’s still 2 more years of attacks on him coming. The take-away the Republicans learned from 1996 is that they should have attacked more, not less. They’re probably right.

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