Wednesday, November 03, 2010

America Sees Red

Well, it's all over except a few races so tight we'll need to see the final returns. But, the message is clear.  America has decided it needs a change of direction and has cast its collective lot with the Republicans.  The Republicans scored a huge victory in the House of Representatives, closed the gap considerably in the Senate and had big wins in the Statehouse races winning almost all the contested governorships.  So, we have had enough of Obama and his side?  Evidently.  It seems as I watch these elections over the years we as a people get more and more impatient.  In less than two years, the majority that swept Obama and his party into complete control of the legislative and executive branches of government have decided to go the other way.  There are of course many reasons for this and many of them are legitimate.  This post won't go into a detailed loss analysis as I'm too busy, tired and hung-over to do it right now.  Hung-over not from a celebratory stand-point but from one of those depression induced hangovers.  I'm literally a sore loser this morning.

Anyway,  it is interesting to see how fast the Americans have decided to go toward the new Bright Shiny Object.  The Tea Party energy was real, it was angry and it was effective in accomplishing the task of taking legislative power away from the Democrats.  It's not like they did anything with it to begin with, but it has been wrenched from their hands nonetheless.  Mr. Boehner is the likely Speaker of the House now, unless he receives a challenge from someone in the Tea Party faction (Michelle Bachmann perhaps?) who wants to wield the big hammer.  We'll see what they propose.  So far, at least since 2006, the Republican House leadership under Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor have been woefully short on substance and incredibly prolific on rhetoric.  It's now time for them to do something useful. 

My concern is this.  They will focus their efforts on repeal and moving backward.  We've spent two years getting a health care bill that actually helps people.  The Republicans have vowed repeal.  We've spent significant political capital and time on attempting to reform Wall Street and support small business through a Jobs Aid bill and Financial Reform.  The Republicans blocked the small business bill and have vowed to repeal the Financial Reform bill.  Okay, let's say for some reason they accomplish this.  What happens?  Let's revert back to exactly where we were on January 19, 2009 by eliminating all the legislation that has been passed.  Let's extend the tax cuts before they expire at the end of this year. 

Now, what has been done?  Nothing helpful I can assure you.  The market will still be at 7-8k on the Dow.  Unemployment would be significantly worse than it is (analysis from various sources say 15% or higher) and we'd have a health care system still denying coverage, rescinding coverage and raising rates 3 times the rate of inflation.

Let's do all that the Republicans have suggested and I still don't know what they are for.  They have offered up nothing as an alternative to legislation that has been passed.  Nothing.  So, Mr. Boehner, governing is much more than saying no.  Your party now must deal with issues that still face this country:  depressed economic growth, high unemployment, continued foreclosures, lack of capital in the markets.  How are you going to fix this?

It's time for you (Republicans) to celebrate.  You've won your victory and I must say congratulations.  However, when the new Congress begins, the celebration has to stop and the work must begin. You need to explain what you will do, when it will occur and what the benefit of your efforts will be to the country and those who voted you in.  To do otherwise would be at your peril.  The American people are nothing if not impatient.  You have by my calculations less than 2 years to get it right or face the fate of your opponents from your recent victory.

Tell me what you think, (but not too loudly as I have a headache)



  1. David Pillow11:58 PM

    I was always a Hilliary supporter more than an Obama supporter. It was delusional for Obama to think, and almost promise, that he could bring both sides together. The right had no interest. Hilliary was always better positioned to scrap, claw, and fight. Obama needs to give her a call and ask for a boxing lesson. Obama played himself left of Hillary to get the nomination, but on the war, Gitmo, NCLB, Don't ask--don't tell, etc, he's not demonstrated the leftist commitment he promised. On health care, he philosophically offended the right and the libertarian minded with a "forced" purchase. And though he negotiated 20 billion from BP, he appeared absent from duty for months during the oil leak.

    But where to go from here?

    1. He has to be strong enough to be respected, and not worry about being liked--he won't be.

    2. I'm not wise enough to question Nobel prize winning economists who say we need more Keynesian spending, but I don't like the approach of throwing it from a helicopter (though I did benefit personally). We need a common spending goal. We achieved greatness as a country when we collectively bought war bonds to allow the government to develop a great military. It wasn't just spending on logistics. Factories, planes, jeeps, and ships were built. The greatest generation also got jobs building a great public highway system. And with the cold war, we spent our way into the technological era. And now we have no goal except to try to make financial institutions rich because those institutions are listed on the financial reports of our 401Ks. I think we need to shoot for Mars and beyond, but half of the country will only rally around a goal if it means working to defeat a common enemy. I think we need to work to decrease global warming and the pollution of the oceans, but half of the country is in denial. So it won't be as easy as it was previously, but Obama must commit himself to a coherent spending goal--a clear vision--that emphasizes science and tech education, builds infrastructure, and encourages high tech manufacturing.

    3. Obama needs to go to church on Sundays. He campaigned in part on his Christian foundations, and though I might prefer a committed agnostic, his change in behavior makes him look as though he was playing games, and provides a multiple of openings for attack by the rabid right. I recommend a monthly visit to the National Cathedral. It is magnificent--one of my favorite things in DC.

    I don't think those suggestions will fix much at this point, and hopefully there are better ideas out there. But now is not the time to wrangle about the vision. Now is the time to pick a vision and push it. Push it hard; push it passionately.

  2. Excellent comments David and I agree completely. Perhaps this election was the wake-up call the man needs. I believe he is a brilliant guy and committed to being a good president, but has made some bad choices in the first two years. First was the appointment of Summers and Geithner. The second was Rahm Emmanuel. Better to surround yourself with the progressive voices who got you the job.

    As to the stimulus spending, I'm right there with you. We need programs that will be manufacturing oriented. Why can't we turn those shuttered factories all up and down the Ohio River valley into Windmill or PhotoVoltaic factories?

    thanks for reading.