Shellacking is an understatement. Rout may be a better word to describe last Tuesday’s election. Finally, the Party of No has taken a huge stake in the future direction of this country. Just saying no is no longer an option. They now have to get off of the couch and take responsibility for their actions. And if they think they received a mandate from the people, think again. Over 46% of the voters that voted for Republicans say their vote was not for the Republicans but against the Democrats. These are the swing voters that could just as easily swing again in 2012.
Interestingly, it was both moderate Republicans and Democrats that were decimated in the last election cycle. That leaves us with the most right wing portion of the Republican Party and the most liberal Democrats in charge of government. We are likely to see little concrete action but lots of barbs thrown around. As Barron’s magazine points out, campaigning is the easy part. Thomas Donlan, the editor, stated that it is doubtful that another policy, or no policy at all, could have accomplished any more than the President and Congress accomplished with the dour economy. He goes on to point out that a “divided government is unlikely to satisfy the aspirations of a divided people.” It is his expectation that disillusionment will be the most likely outcome of this election.
Across the nation, taxes are going to go up. It is naive thinking to believe that we can continue to support government functions at the same time that government revenue has radically shrunk. We saw it in the Georgia legislature last year when they raised taxes and fees. We saw it under Reagan when he started taxing Social Security benefits and adjusted the tax code that eliminated numerous deductions, thus raising taxes. We will see it this year under Governor Deal but you can be sure it will be disguised, much like the young Asian man who snuck aboard a plane looking like an 80-year-old Caucasian male.
Ironically, the economy, while struggling, has shown significant signs of recovering over the last eight months, suggesting that Obama’s policies are beginning to pay off. Last Friday’s job numbers surprised analysts as more than double the estimate of new hires was reported. Factory orders rose the sharpest in October that they have since last January. Auto sales showed the best performance in two years (not counting Cash for Clunkers). Services companies showed the fastest increase in three months. These are all signs of a recovering economy even if unemployment has yet to budge from 9.6%. Light is beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel. What more could you hope for in two years? However, patience has never been an American virtue.
The new conservatives have already begun to demonstrate how they will approach governing. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just called for a military strike on Iran. They just cannot have enough wars to suit them. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) says they will not compromise, on anything. That is a recipe for a government shutdown. Texas is seriously considering eliminating the Medicaid and CHIP (medical care for children) programs because of the costs. So much for their claim of caring for children and grandchildren. And, without bothering to check any facts, they have claimed that Obama’s trip to Asia is costing per day more than the daily cost of the Afgan war, an assertion that was quickly refuted as absurd.
All I can say is that the next two years will be most interesting. Republicans have a chance to demonstrate what they are capable of (for the fourth time I might add – Reagan, Gingrich, Bush, and now) when given power. Will they be any different? Do not hold your breath.