11 November 2010


Last week’s elections already seem remote although there are still some unresolved contests. Results show there are not really red states and blue states, as the outcomes were nationalized. Even here in New York despite weakness at the top of the ticket, at least five house seats changed hands, with one pending, and Republicans recaptured the state senate, putting them back in the game. The oddity is California, once the trend-setter for the country, now the exception and in inexorable decline due to government excess. Even there, after spending $140 million Meg Whitman should have been elected, but was undone by a sleazy lawyer parading an illegal housekeeper who was paid $23 per hour complaining about her employer.

Notwithstanding the results the administration is in denial, attributing defeat to a “communications failure” rather than policy rejection. As polls have indicated, this was not a vote for Republicans, but a vote against the Democratic congress. Republicans now have to prove themselves by sticking to principle. But even with a majority of governorships, state legislatures, and the house, the possibility of reversing course is limited. It is unlikely that this President is going to moderate given his attitude, which means we can look forward to two years of gridlock. Gridlock at least puts the brakes on moving in the wrong direction, but won’t do much to resolve long-term problems.

But this administration is not out of options, given its ideological extremism. My guess is that it will try to do an end run around the states and congress by attempting to rule by fiat- that is to say Executive Orders, that vastly expand the powers of the Presidency and pre-empt the congress. We have already seen a bold power-grab by the EPA in its claim to regulate carbon as a threat to the environment, which covers just about everything. The administration could attempt to expand bureaucratic power comparably in other areas simply by issuing decrees. The congress and the states will have their hands full simply in resisting these efforts, most of which will wind up in the courts. With an administration hell bent on getting its way despite public opinion, and a congress likely to be resistant, not much of substance is likely to be resolved until after the 2012 elections. Meanwhile we will have to muddle through the uncertainty and an economy that is unlikely to strengthen much as a result.

No comments:

Post a Comment