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Archive for November, 2010

Election Storm Clouds

Posted by penuruloki on November 3, 2010

It’s supposed to be a triumphant year for Republicans, but I can’t ignore what I see some storm clouds on the horizon as well. I didn’t talk much about politics before the election this year, so I think a recap is appropriate.

1) California is essentially done. Republicans put up two accomplished business women at the top of the ticket in a wave year where the economy is the top issue, and they still lost. There’s no way around it. Cali is now so deep in the liberal stranglehold, there’s really no chance for Republicans to make it there. Thing is, Cali was already the “Greece” of the United States. Problems with public deficits and debt, high unemployment, and strangled by public unions. Last night was the civilized equivalent of the riots in Greece over austerity measures. For entrepreneurs and capital in California, the message is clear: time to look for a warmer climate. Expect Cali to get worse, and maybe collapse before there’s any chance of fixing their problems.

2) Dayton in MN. It’s my neck of the woods so it matters more to me than others, but I’m still shocked he was on the ballot, much less won (I see no chance of finding 8k more Rep votes in the recount in a blue state). By his own account, he was a terrible Senator. Why did people elect him Governor? It seems even more mystifying when you realize that they bucked the 2006 Dem wave to keep Pawlenty around. To top it off, voters gave both state houses to the Republicans, yielding an exact reversal of the status quo (Rep Gov & Dem Congress -> Dem Gov & Rep Congress). I understand the appeal of divided government, but the final outcome here baffles me. We’ll see if the Rep Congress can hold the line as well as Pawlenty did. I can’t say I’m too optimistic about the immediate future for MN.

3) Tea Party loses key senate races. There’s no doubt that some people will be looking at NV, AK, and DE and thinking that establishment candidates could have won those races. They may even be right. The two questions going forward for the TP movement are A)”How much can the TP influence the Republican agenda in Washington,” and B)”Can the TP maintain their momentum into the 2012 races” (where there are many more opportunites for Republicans to gain than in 2010 anyway). Even with several nice victories under their belt, those high profile losses will hurt their chances to influence the agenda. That, combined with the limits on what they can do with just the House may increase the difficulty of holding onto their momentum. This is an issue for the party and the country.

4)The House. Lets talk about what control of the House actually means. For the next two months, we’re relying on Senate Republicans to hold together and filibuster any last-minute liberal adventures (I have no doubt they’ll try to get something through, however small). In January, that duty passes to the Republican House. The House must also originate any spending bills, which should put an extra damper on the Dem’s ability to spend  more taxpayer money (debt of course, not cash). That’s really all the power they have at this point. There will be no rollback of Obamacare. You’ll not likely see the Bush tax cuts extended either. This is Dunkirk. The losses have been stemmed, but there’s no great victories to be won yet.

Economically, once Republicans take over in January, their ability to hold back Dem’s liberal adventures will give businesses a chance to take stock of the situation, assess the numbers, and finally move off their cash stockpiles and start hiring again, although not in the numbers people would like to see. This could actually hurt Republicans in 2012 if things pick up enough (both sides will take credit for a recovery caused by doing essentially nothing), but the country needs a breather pretty badly right now, so it’s a good thing no matter what the cost politically.

5) The Senate. There are some finding a silver lining in not gaining the Senate, in that it becomes harder to paint an obstructionist congress as simply a problem with Republicans. What gets missed is that the Senate ratifies treaties and approves judicial appointments. Those are huge opportunities for Dems to use to keep moving their agenda forward. They’re farther away from 60 votes for Cloture (to stop Republican filibusters), but they still have the ball here, and Republicans still have to play defense. That stings a bit. Opportunities were always limited in the Senate (this was class of 2004 up for reelection, while 2006 and 2008 were the big Dem years with vulnerable freshmen), but control here is a big deal, and the Dems still have control.

 

Overall, the night was good news, in that we’re moving toward a better alignment. Despite the headlines and heady predictions though, the work is just beginning, and there’s still a lot to be nervous about.

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