Make no mistake about it. Yesterday was a really bad day for the Democrats in general and President Obama in particular. The Republicans, tapping into free form dissatisfaction with incumbents, most of whom happened to be Democrats, took over the House of Representatives and gained some seats in the Senate, although how many is unknown at this point given the razor thin election in Alaska.
The Republicans are understandably exultant about their huge victory last night. But what exactly is going to happen when everybody gets sworn in and the heavy lifting of governance begins? The answer is clear. It depends.
They ran on the platform of repealing health care reform. Not gonna happen as long as Barack Obama is President. He will most assuredly veto any such bill that hits his desk. And there aren't enough votes to override it when he does. Besides, there are parts of it that everybody likes. Like coverage for pre-existing conditions. And it is hard to undo stuff that gets made into law. Everybody hates the United States Tax Code. It's still on the books. So complete repeal is impossible.
Cutting spending? It is to laugh. As far as I can tell the Republican candidates were all pretty vague when they were pressed to identify areas where they would cut spending. People expect services from the government. Hell, they couldn't even get rid of the National Endowment for the Arts after the furor over the grants to Robert Mapplethorpe. And this is why. Programs don't just spring from the brow of some pointy headed bureaucrat. They have political constituencies of their own. Dale Bumpers railed for years against that big dang particle accelerator the Department of Energy wanted to build. Guess who won?
No more bail outs? Fine. There won't be any more. Not necessary since the bailouts, initiated by George W. Bush by the way, not Barry, saved the banking and automotive industry and likely staved off a global economic crisis.
Cutting taxes? The Dems are all for it. Indeed, they cut taxes for small business and proposed further relief for whatever constitutes the middle class. There's wiggle room here for both sides. But this will require negotiation and compromise. Which is anathema to the true believers on this issue.
What it will come down to is this: Will the new majority in the House try to introduce legislation that stands any chance of getting passed in the next 2 years? Or will the next two years be dedicated to trying to ensure that Obama is a one term President as some Republican leaders have suggested? Which ain't exactly the loftiest goal of statecraft I have ever heard.
We shall see what we shall see. Gotta hand it to the Elephants. Their discipline and cohesiveness carried the day. Not to mention the fact that the Democrats' feckless defense of their own policies pretty much served it up to them on a silver platter.
It's gonna be an interesting 2 years.