The Liberally-leaning Mainstream Media and hand-wringing Republicans are whipping up a frenzy that the President is in a rather powerful position. The following analysis is an interesting take on a different view…
2 (Probably 4) More Years
How did that happen? Americans just re-elected Barack Obama but also gave Republicans an only minimally diminished House majority, thereby ratifying a status quo that hardly anyone finds satisfactory. The answer is that as almost all of the big swing states–North Carolina is the lone exception, with Florida still too close to call–went Democratic in the presidential race, they sent GOP majorities to Congress.
Here’s how the new House delegation breaks down for each swing state with 9 or more electoral votes, with Republicans counted first: Colorado 4-3, Florida 17-9 (with 1 yet uncalled), Michigan 9-5, North Carolina 9-3 (1 uncalled), Ohio 12-4, Pennsylvania 13-5, Virginia 8-3, Wisconsin 5-3.
Add it up, assuming Democrats hold their leads in the uncalled races (including for Florida’s 29 electoral votes), and Obama beat Romney in these eight states 115-15, while Republican House candidates beat Democratic ones 77-37. That’s enough to account for both Obama’s margin of victory and, in all likelihood, the Republican margin in the House.
So, the President’s victory States are the same as the Republican House’s victory States. However, Obama is a lame duck, while every member of the House will need to get re-elected in 2014. So, who has the incentive to cave in? Those facing re-election after promising that they would not raise taxes? Or the one person who is worried about his legacy?
It’s imaginable that Obama, freed from the re-election need to pander to his leftist base, will either tame the House Republicans or learn to work with them the way Bill Clinton did. But there is little in his first term to suggest he has the skill to do the former or the inclination to do the latter. And the history of presidential second terms is not a terribly promising one.
On the other hand, here’s an optimistic take from reader Mark Swanson: “The most powerful man in the country is now Speaker Boehner. He can tell Obama, ‘Meet us halfway, both of us giving up some of what we want and accepting some of what we don’t want. Or face four years of gridlock.’ Boehner holds all the cards because he can live with either outcome, while Obama wants neither. Obama’s desired outcome (also his idea of compromise) is, ‘Give me everything I want, but I’ll accept a slightly slower timetable.’ But he doesn’t want his second term to be four years of nothing, so Boehner has the stronger hand.”
Again, every one of the House Republicans was elected on a platform of no tax increases, lower the rates and broaden the base, and cut federal spending. Every one of these members must face the voters in 2 years in Districts that support the member’s position. The Senate, on the other hand, has not passed a budget in 3 years and is an easy whipping boy for the House Republicans to use. The President is the only one sitting there with a free pass and a legacy at stake.
While I would have preferred a President Romney, the power of the purse still resides with Congress, and we’ve got a strong hand to play.