A Big Storm’s A’Comin’Posted: November 3, 2014
Or so they say in Maine. And they did have a big storm this week that hit much of the East Coast. But that is not what I mean.
Tomorrow is Election Day and by all accounts it is very likely that the Republican Party will strengthen their majority in the House of Representatives and win a majority in the Senate. Although the final result may not be known until much later (Louisiana and Georgia are very tight Senate races with multiple candidates and in those states at least a 50% majority is required), 2015 will likely dawn with the Republicans in control of Congress.
My hope for the country is that it is calm and smooth sailing for the next two years. No storms. That would require the Republicans in charge to actually govern and for the Democrats to work with the party in control to help them pass meaningful legislation.
My fear is that both Republicans and Democrats will take the “paybacks are hell” approach to governing. The Republicans by passing legislation they know the President will veto (repeal of the Affordable Care Act, increased restrictions on immigration, and many other issues or worst of all, attempt to impeach him), while the Democrats in the Senate will use the same tactics currently used by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and use the arcane rules of the Senate to block every Republican initiative. In my view either approach (or worse, both) is bad for the country. We cannot afford two more years of partisan bickering with little to nothing getting accomplished.
There are too many problems facing our country that could be solved through genuine bipartisan cooperation such as rebuilding our infrastructure (jobs, jobs, jobs!), refining the tax code in a meaningful way, removing the sequester (which in 2015 kicks back in and there is universal agreement that it will put a big hole in government operations, especially for the Armed Forces, without a meaningful assessment of where funds need to be spent), genuine immigration reform, determining a coherent Middle East policy (our troops are in combat and the Congress went home without debating whether to put them in harm’s way), approving the Keystone Pipeline and other issues worth the time and huge amounts of money spent on getting elected to Congress. If they want the job so badly, then they should do it.
Reality being what it is these days in Washington DC, there will inevitably be some bills passed by the Republican Congress that they know in advance the President will veto. This is so they can use the issues for the 2016 Presidential race. And for some of those issues, the Democrats will be happy to say that the President vetoed them in order to clearly draw the line between the positions of the two parties. But let’s hope that these showmanship evolutions are kept to a minimum and the Congress decides to do its job. They should keep in mind that the Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, are at their lowest level of public approval in memory. No one is happy with them, primarily because not much gets accomplished other than one or another “gotcha” activity. Come the new Congress in January 2015, let’s just get on with it.
There will of course be wild cards. One already making noise is Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who we will remember as the architect of the government shutdown last fall. In the Washington Post today, Senator Cruz said the first order of business should be a series of hearings on President Obama, “looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.” He further would not say that he will support Senator McConnell when/if he takes over as Senate Majority Leader. Look for more Tea Party inspired insurrections in the House and Senate that will sorely test the leadership of Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell. If they do not get support from their more moderate party members, coupled with middle of the road Democrats, then we are in for a long two years.
Let’s hope the current election cycle is the storm before the calm, rather than the other way around.