Continuing my biennial tradition of making a mockery of the democratic process by treating it as a sporting event to be wagered upon I've made my predictions for tomorrows midterm elections. The Republicans need to gain 39 seats in the House of Representatives to take control of that body and I have no doubt that they will get them. In fact, I'm predicting they'll take 50-60 with no more than 75. They also need to gain 10 seats in the Senate to take control of that body as well but I just don't see that happening. I'm predicting that they'll take 6-8 with a high of 9, leaving Democrats with a slim majority.
Despite delirious prognostications about Democrats getting "crushed" tomorrow I think that this will be a net positive for President Obama, whom regular readers know I like much more than his party as a whole, going into the 2012 elections. These past two years have been rough ones for Americans but I think Obama has done a fairly good job playing the hand he was dealt coming into office, despite pussified Democrats, obstructionist Republicans, Bush's tanking economy, Bush's two unfunded wars and the myriad of other albatrosses hanging from his neck. Now the Republicans will have two years to propose something, anything substantive that will help get America back on its feet and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has already stated the central plank of their bold new strategy:
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.That's their plan: politics over governance. No serious proposals to reinvigorate the economy or reduce the debt or deficits, just a party-wide retrenchment and digging in of heels with a constant refrain of tax cuts (which is hardly a serious proposal based on the massive deficits we're dealing with). You see, there are only two ways to reduce government deficits: increase revenues (raising taxes) or reduce spending, and since they wouldn't even consider the possibility of the former if Fort Knox was on fire that leaves the latter. But what have they proposed cutting?
As I've said, nothing substantial or specific, just vague platitudes about reducing spending and eliminating waste. 75% of our federal budget is used to pay for only three things: Social Security, Medicare and military spending; everything else, everything else, makes up the other 25%. Any serious proposal to reduce our deficits and steer us back towards fiscal solvency must address the fact that cuts have to be made in those three areas. And even though cuts to these areas will be hard to make and less than popular with voters, any proposals by either party that do not do this should not be taken seriously. And what has the latest proposed spending cut by the so-called party of fiscal conservatism been? The 1.5% of NPR's funding that they get from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: about three million dollars. Our national debt is around thirteen and a half trillion dollars, about four million times that.
"So how does losing the House help Obama?", I hear you asking. Well, if the Republicans win the House and are actually serious about reducing deficits and making spending cuts then they will compromise and work with Obama's bipartisan deficit commission to shore up the economy: win for Obama and more importantly, win for Americans (and many of those Americans will be voting in 2012). If however they do what I expect and continue to try to derail everything he proposes whilst simultaneously proposing to repeal health care and financial reforms that are popular with Americans and even possibly shut down the government, I think it will become fairly clear to voters that Republicans are more interested in regaining power than in trying to help the country: win for Obama and more importantly, huge loss for Americans (and many of those Americans will be voting in 2012).
The president inherited a full plate when he came into office and he needed a strong party that controlled both houses of congress to have his back as he tried to institute his ambitious agenda for America. Unfortunately for him and that agenda, he's had to make due with the Democrats, who to their credit and despite all the shit I talk about them have done a lot of things right over the past two years. But they've also done a lot of things wrong and that, combined with a recessed economy, high unemployment and allowing the Republicans to consistently control the narrative in Washington, is why they're going to lose a substantial number of seats in tomorrows midterms.
But those losses come with a silver lining: in the minds of the voters Republicans will finally be forced to own part of the economy Bush left on his desk two years ago and if the only solution they have for the next two years is still merely "NO!" then they should enjoy tomorrows victory while it lasts because they're gonna have a hell of a time running a presidential candidate on that nihilistic platform. Voters will have two choices when they enter their voting booths: one party that irresponsibly spends your tax dollars like hell and another party that irresponsibly spends your tax dollars like hell whilst simultaneously and hypocritically swearing up and down that they do not. The main difference between them at this point is that the first party has an actual adult as their leader. Please make sure you vote tomorrow everyone.