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The coming Republican sweep

Fewer than 24 months ago, in other words, a million years ago when it comes to politics, the outlook for the Democrats in Washington D.C. couldn’t have been better.  President Obama had won decisively, and in both the House and Senate, the Democrats had powerful majorities.  In the House of Representatives they had built on their 2006 successes, garnering a 39 vote advantage.  In the Senate, in something that hasn’t happened since the 1970’s, they reached the magic number of 60.  This meant that if they all pulled together, they could break any attempted filibuster on the part of the minority.  The Democrats were back.  But my, how quickly things can change in American politics.   The coming mid-term elections, with all 435 House seats up for election and a third of the Senate are shaping up as one of the biggest political routs in American history.  Oh sure, there have been worse, but if the trends hold, Tuesday night will be a tough one for the President and his party.   

 

Read more: The coming Republican sweep

Head ’em up, move ’em out

My favorite apps (excuse me, applications) on my Apple iPhone, which yes, also doubles as a cell phone, is Youtube and the video clip I visit the most is the opening to a long ago western TV series called “Rawhide.” The show, whose cast included Clint Eastwood, follows the adventures of cowboys on a cattle drive. The first line of the theme song is “head ‘em up, move ‘em out.” At heart I am convinced I am a cowboy. And yes, I even own a cowboy hat (or “wide brimmed” hat as they call it out west) and

Read more: Head ’em up, move ’em out

The Bush tax cuts need to stay in place

And no matter what you call it, any move to take money out of the economy, isn’t going to help matters. 

Back in 2001 and 2003, President George W. Bush proposed an across the board series of tax reductions. These included reductions in the income tax rate, taxes on dividends, taxes on capital gains, and taxes on married couples. The latter, which benefited more than just high earners was a cut in the despised “marriage tax.”
They also included new tax credits for savings intended for education and retirement. The president and many Republicans in Congress made the case that the economy was starting to slow down after the shock of Sept. 11 and we needed the tax cuts to stave off a recession. Further, since, they were temporary, their impact on the deficit, while significant, wasn’t necessarily permanent. They came with an expiration date of December 2010.

Read more: The Bush tax cuts need to stay in place

The “Contract from America” is not Gingrich’s “Contract with America”

For many Republicans election 2010 is beginning to feel a lot like 1994.  That was the year, in one of the most sea changing elections since the end of World War II, that the Republicans took control of the Congress.  But they did more than win a majority.  Unlike their 1946 and 1952 victories when they won a majority only to lose it a couple of years later, this time, the GOP’s hold on both Houses of Congress lasted twelve years. It came to an end in 2006. With the midterms just a few weeks away, it’s getting down to counting seats. It will take a shift of forty seats in the House of Representatives to give the GOP control. The Senate is in the realm of possibility, but the prospect of an outright takeover remains a little more remote.

Read more: The “Contract from America” is not Gingrich’s “Contract with America”

When does the recovery start? Or does it?

I keep hoping we will find that magic turning point when our national economy clearly and perceptibly begins to improve.  We see hints.  Consumer sentiment shows a slight uptick.  Though sadly, it was grim to begin with.  Durable goods orders go up a little.  That’s good news and new claims for unemployment insurance are down a little.  But all of this is like background noise.  It doesn’t represent a profound or decisive trend.  What’s more, this recession, unlike most, just doesn’t want to end.  I don’t know when a recession becomes a depression.  Maybe things need to get a lot worse before that word can be used, but we’ve had a half dozen recessions since the end of World War II and this one is by far the worst.

Read more: When does the recovery start? Or does it?

Who will take on Obama in 2012?

The midterm elections, if you’re a Democrat, aren’t shaping up well. The worst case scenarios project losses that at the very least are going to cost the Democrats control of the House of Representatives. Even more dire predictions suggest they could lose control of the Senate. The latter isn’t likely, but enough pieces seem to be coming into place to make it a possibility.
Unless there is a turnaround, the day after Election Day is going to be glum for the Democrats. There will be a lot of explaining, endless analysis, Fox TV will be joyful, and there will promises from the White House stoically expressing their willingness to work with the new majority. Under almost any scenario President Barack Obama will have to develop a new approach to dealing with Congress.

Read more: Who will take on Obama in 2012?

 

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