November 1, 2010

November 1, 2010 | Commentary on Economy, Jobs

Lawmakers Prepare to Enter Unemployment Lines

It’s finally here—Election Day 2010. After the saturating ads and the glut of polls, the only numbers that matter will be the votes cast. All Americans, surely, will be relieved that the process is finally over and the various new governors-elect, representatives-elect and senators-elect can get to work.

Three Scenarios

There are three scenarios post election and all have dramatic consequences for you the taxpayer. All three present problems for conservatives, yet provide opportunities for the new Tea Party members of Congress. This is an exciting time to be a conservative, and we can only “hope” that President Obama does not “change” his losing strategy with regard to the American people since, as the President plummets in the polls, conservatives can see the end of the political line for his so-called progressive agenda.

Scenario one: The Democrats keep control of both the House and Senate. If Democrats lose fewer than 39 seats in the House and fewer than 10 seats in the Senate, they will retain control of both chambers and declare victory. If this happens, expect the Democrats to take a run at eliminating the Senate rule allowing a 60-vote threshold to impose cloture and shut off debate in the Senate by members who are waging a filibuster. Under this scenario, the Democratic Senate majority leader and Democratic House speaker will rule with an iron fist and expect a freight train of liberal legislation to make its way to the President’s desk early next year.

Scenario two: Democrats lose the House but retain control of the Senate. This would provide divided control of the federal legislature and produce legislative gridlock. The House would be empowered to conduct oversight hearings into alleged misconduct by the Obama Administration, but blocked by the Senate from presenting legislation to the President for his signature. Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) would be elevated into one of the most important positions in Congress—a committee chairman who can conduct oversight hearings on Obama bureaucrats.

Scenario three: Republicans take control of both the House and Senate. This would create a situation similar to the situation faced by President Bill Clinton after the 1994 election. President Obama would have to decide either to dig in and fight Congress or to triangulate by passing consensus legislation. President Clinton worked with a Republican-controlled Congress on welfare reform, some deregulation bills and keeping the federal government’s hands off regulating the Internet. Under this scenario, Republicans can pass legislation to repeal Obamacare, comprehensive tax reform and a measure to radically cut spending and force the President to sign or obstruct these common-sense ideas.

Jim DeMint: Chairman of Tea Party Caucus

If Senate Republicans add a handful of Tea Party senators to their caucus, they will have one man to thank, Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.). Reports are circulating on Capitol Hill that the Senate Republican leadership wants Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) to help acclimate new members to the Senate to the exclusion of DeMint. A better situation for conservatives would be for both senators to take new members into a new Tea Party caucus for the purposes of creating a bloc of votes to fight for change. This would give the Tea Party caucus the power to demand that the Senate consider abolishing unconstitutional programs, cut spending deeply, end the corrupt practice of trading earmarks for campaign contributions and pass comprehensive tax reform.

Tax Increases

If nothing gets done on extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts by the end of this year, your taxes will go up on January 1. It is expected to be a time of change in Washington after Election Day, but nobody expects the Congress to tackle the tax-cut issue. Instead, that issue most likely will get pushed into the next Congress.

New START Treaty

The Hill reports that Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) is worried that the Senate may not this year ratify the New START Treaty, a treaty negotiated between the U.S. and Russia on nuclear stockpiles, This is great news for conservatives, because there was a side agreement that President Obama negotiated to gut missile defense. This treaty may need to be renegotiated in a manner that keeps America safe.

Tea Party Rules

The week after next will witness the first fight to see if the Tea Party movement actually won on Election Day or if the victories were merely pyrrhic. If the House and Senate Republicans change internal rules to abolish earmarking, that will be a first step down the road of sobriety, so members of Congress will have the moral high ground when cutting waste, fraud and abuse.

Brian Darling is a director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

Related Issues: Economy, Jobs

First appeared in Human Events