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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Election Day Is Less Than One Month Away

Today over at
The Democrats need to win a net of 25 seats in the House to take back control but the current polling data suggests they are probably going to fall short and pick up only about a dozen or so seats. In fact, at this point the most likely outcome of the elections is no change. Barack Obama will be reelected President, the Democrats will hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate (possibly smaller than the 6-seat margin they hold now), and the Republicans will control the House, probably with fewer seats than they hold now. If that happens, we will have spent a year screaming, wasted billions of dollars, and be in the same position as when the whole circus started.
I think this is a reasonable prediction of the election results numerically, but I disagree with the assessment of its consequences. Even without re-taking the House, this changed composition could break the back of the crazytown caucus and hence give the ineffectual John Boehner a little more control to accomplish more than the last do-nothing congress did (at least they should be able to keep the lights on and pass farm and transportation bills in co-operation with the Democrats), and since Harry Reid has already expressed interest in filibuster reform after the dysfunction produced over the last two years of McConnell's obstructionism we can hope that even with a slimmer majority Senate Democrats might accomplish more in their next session as well. Beyond all this, it seems to me that the failure of their strategy to block a second Obama term together with the falling approval numbers occasioned by the strategy -- not to mention the fact that there will not be a third Obama term even if we wanted one -- should redirect the incentives of at least some Republicans away from monolithic toward more occasional obstructionism. I am hoping the pressures of the Fiscal Cliff will finally turn the anti-tax tide and introduce more progressivity into the tax code through the lapse of tax cuts for millionaires followed by Democratic sponsored tax cuts for the middle class in the lame duck session, AND I am hoping that Obama's mandate opens a window long and wide enough to punch his Jobs Bill through, AND I am hoping that even Republicans have to see the demographic writing on the wall clearly enough to make compromise on comprehensive immigration reform possible as well. The continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the confirmation of liberal/moderate justices to the Supreme and other courts probably rounds out the accomplishments we can expect in a second Obama term, unless the mid-terms manage to create a still more congenial Congress capable of getting EFCA, cap and trade, some commonsense gun regulations, and more public investment in renewable energy and mass-transit infrastructure for Obama to sign. I'd like to think a more progressive Congress would help keep us out of war with Iran and also put pressure on the Obama administration to end the drone program, but I suspect that this pressure will have to continue to come from mass mobilizations from the left of Congress for a while longer (from good citizens who continue to vote but also know that voting isn't enough).

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