03 November, 2010

Where Are We And What Next?

My plan was to have this written for this morning, but I was too tired when I went to bed.

The wave came ashore and the House was hit hard by the flood. The GOP made historic gains in the House, and fared far less well in the Senate.

As I write this, it appears that Lisa Murkowski will return as Senator from AK. There has been some speculation that she might switch sides and caucus with the Democrats. That would be extremely surprising. The Murkowskis are one of the leading families in AK’s “Corrupt Bastards Club”. The rest of the Club is all Republican, and they’d never forgive her if she went over to the other side. This term would absolutely be her last, and she wouldn’t even be able to sell space heaters in AK afterwards.

Still, Murkowski doesn’t strike me as the brightest bulb in the box, so maybe she’ll switch after all.

The other big surprise is Nevada, where Sharron Angle appears to have lost rather decisively, despite never trailing in a single poll over the last several weeks. There are a couple reasons for this, I think, and one relates to general underperformance in the Senate races overall.

It went relatively unnoticed at the time, but several weeks ago, Michael Steele elected not to spend money on Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts, and leave that to the local organizations. Despite what you may have read/heard, the RNC was cash strapped for most of the year. Steele had to choose between funding an increasingly larger GOP field, or to spend money on GOTV. His decision will undoubtedly be second-guessed for years to come, but it’s pretty certain that the Democrats outplayed the Republicans in GOTV. The Dems overperformed the polls in every close Senate race.

However, even without the GOTV issues, Sharron Angle may have been doomed. I noticed another thing several weeks ago, and then later forgot it, and I wish I hadn’t. The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) came out resoundingly in support of Harry Reid (D-NV). I’m not so sure this was a smart decision, because it seems to me that Reid has not delivered for Nevada gaming in the last 10 years at least, and definitely since he became Majority Leader. But, the NGC understands the way the game is played, and knows that the Senate Majority Leader is a stronger ally to have than a freshman Senator.

If you’ve spent any significant time dealing with politics in Nevada (and I have), there’s one thing you learn very quickly. Nothing, and I mean nothing that’s political happens in Nevada without the permission of the NGC. You can’t raise the rates on parking meters without NGC approval. Their strong endorsement turned Angle’s already steep uphill climb into climbing Mt. Everest.

So, that’s where we are. Frankly, a great place to be, and miles better than the GOP could’ve expected to be a year or even six months ago.

What next?

Already the media is clamoring that the GOP will have to work with the President and come to compromise with him. I’m trying to remember the last time I heard someone from the MSM say that a Democratic congress would have to work with a Republican President and come to compromise with him. I don’t think it’s ever happened.

Well, the answer to that is still “Hell, no”. The President didn’t want to work with us on the stimulus. He didn’t want to work with us on Obamacare. And he paid the price, and Democrats will pay the price for years for them. He has the country going in completely the wrong direction. Compromises aren’t going to fix that. We need to turn around. If he wants to help with that, then we can compromise. Otherwise, he needs to shut up and get out of the way.

Now, there is some bad news here. We’re not going to repeal Obamacare. Not while he’s in office. And we may never be able to get rid of it entirely. Even defunding it runs risks, as it will likely produce a government shutdown showdown with the President.  We’re also going to have to accept the fact that deficits are going to be extraordinarily high for a while, and that we may have to raise the debt ceiling again.

That’s the bad news. There’s much more good news, however. Cap and trade is now dead. At least until 2013. So is “comprehensive immigration reform”. So is any new huge government stimulus package. None of these have a chance at passage in either the House or the Senate. On the other hand, extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans is a near certainty. It will easily pass both Houses, and the President will have to sign it. In fact, there’s a good chance this is on his desk before the end of this month.

Now, just because we’re not going to be able to slash the budget wherever we want, doesn’t  mean we shouldn’t try.  We should try to set a spending freeze at the very minimum. Across the board. Including defense. The GOP needs to have their feet held to the fire on this one. Force President Obama (D-USA) to say no.

We should come up with our own stimulus plan. One that doesn’t require $700 billion of government faux shovel ready projects. One that promotes real and long term growth. We should pass it and dare the President to veto it. As I’m writing this, Obama is speaking. And he’s still petulant and condescending. That’s good. The more combative the next two years are, the better for the country.

The economy is already showing small signs of coming out of its doldrums. In the last few weeks there have been a few good economic reports. We should expect to see more over the next six months or so, as the private sector finally can stop worrying about uncertainty. However, due to the high number of “discouraged” job hunters out there, the unemployment rate may stay over 9% for quite some time. I’d be extremely surprised to see it below 8.5% a year from now.

I still have to finish my series on the Tea Party. I haven’t forgotten that. I’ve just been too busy with other things. Those posts will be coming in the next few days, I think, and now I’ll be able to add my thoughts on how the Tea Party successes and failures will impact our Congress over the next two years.

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