Election Sweep

Piling on to the other billion people already talking about this today, I figured I need to weigh in.  First of all, in case you missed it, the Democrats took control of the entire congress yesterday. Of the 435 seats in the house, 229 are now dems and 196 are Republicans, leaving 10 still undecided or independent seats – a 33 seat advantage, or 52.6% of the vote.  In the senate, Democrats control 50 seats, and Republicans control 49, and Lieberman (1) is our one-and-only independent, for a total of 100 senators – a 1 seat advantage, or 50% of the vote. 

So, the Liberals will pretty much take every vote in the house, chair all the committees, etc, and Nancy Pelosi’s (news, bio, voting record) values (what I call San Francisco values) come that much closer to being pushed on the rest of us.  In the Senate, absolutely everything will be a brutal fight, ’cause the group’s split right down the middle.  But Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) will likely be Majority Leader, and the committees there will all be chaired Democrat.

Want detailed results?  Here you go…

My Thoughts (Can we really call it “analysis”?)

After 12 years of a Republican-controlled congress, which (in the mind of at least this conservative) did VERY little to advance conservative policy in this country.  I understand why the country demanded change, even though I don’t think the change will be for the good … especially not in the near term. 

On the up side, the Republican congress cut taxes in very effective ways at very important times, and I believe saved us from what could have been a really nasty economic period following the burst of the tech bubble in 2000, a number of corporate scandals, and 9/11.  Also, welfare reform back in the late 90’s was a big deal.  But the sad truth is that, at the moment, I can’t think of anything else for which to praise them.

On the down side, there’s lots to talk about.  Nothing done on Social Security reform.  Very little accomplished on immigration reform (kudos on the wall, and on not caving to the senate’s pseudo-amnesty-no-enforcement-at-all bill, but that’s about it).  Out of control spending, the crown jewel of which is the brand spankin’ new $800 billion Medicare drug entitlement.  And so forth. 

All in all, as a conservative and a Republican, I’m pretty disappointed.  Not much to show for 12 years of power, especially for the last 6, when we should have been conservatives with a passionate purpose … bending all three branches of government to our wily conservative ways.  Muhahahaha!

But, thanks to naivete and underestimation in the war on terror, an intimidated-gone-too-far-to-stubborn (ready: cowboy) attitude on the part of President Bush, and a severe misunderstanding of how important it is to communicate well with the American people … we have lost the congress.  Now, for the next two years, I believe here’s the agenda we have to look forward to (probably in this order)…

  1. Get out of Iraq as fast as possible
  2. Impeach President Bush
  3. Roll back the tax cuts
  4. Spin up the crazy entitlement spending machine
  5. Get Hillary elected

Doesn’t sound like the best way to spend the next couple years.

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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7 Responses to Election Sweep

  1. Chris Miller says:

    I agree that the first of your 4 points probably will make up the agenda in the upcoming couple years (sigh). Do you think the Democrats will still rally behind Hillary though? Enough people (in BOTH parties) detest the woman that she seems like a foolish choice for a party that would love to control the legislature AND the white house. Seems to me that Obama has become the poster boy of the Democrats and has the potential to become another unifying, JFK-like force within the Democrats. My money’s on Obama and I fear the Republicans don’t have anyone to contest him (unless Rudy agrees to run and even then it would be an uphill battle).

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  2. Neva says:

    This kind of ties into what I was trying to say in my last post on the extreme liberal values thread. You point out that even with six years of republican control over the entire federal government, they didn’t really do a lot to advance conservative causes. Why, then, is it reasonable to assume that democrats getting control of congress means that the extreme liberal agenda is going to be automatically enacted? Surely no one’s suggesting the democrats are better organized right now.

    As for your projected plan of action by a democratic congress over the next two years…
    1) I think a change in the Iraq policy is absolutely necessary, as what we’ve been doing clearly isn’t working. I still maintain there are enough reasonable and moderate members of the democratic party to keep things from deviating too far from reality. I do expect (or at least hope) to see a more clear plan for getting the situation under control and reducing or eliminating American involvement, but I will be seriously disappointed if the response is to just leave. We caused this mess; it’s our responsibility to fix it.
    2) Again, I hope not. While I personally dislike the man and most of the decisions he’s made, I don’t really see what will be served by this kind of vendetta. I would much rather see congress spend its time trying to change policy rather than getting revenge. (For the record, I felt the same way about Clinton’s impeachment and all of the accompanying focus on scandal. I cannot tell you how glad I was to live in England through a year of that and not have to hear about it continually. I am actually considering moving back there within the next two years, not to avoid petty American political grudge matches, but that would be a nice benefit.)
    3) Yes. This is something that needs to be done. The budget deficit and national debt are skyrocketing. I don’t see how someone can justify decreasing federal income in the face of that.
    4) Quite honestly, I find the phrasing and characterization of this to be dismissive and insulting. Since you didn’t provide any context of what “crazy entitlements” you’re talking about, I can’t even be sure what you mean by it, so I don’t really think I can say any more than that.
    5) I admit that the democratic party has not always exercised the best judgement of late, but I don’t think that Hilary is likely to make it as a successful candidate, and I hope the democratic party as a whole recognizes that. I do think it’s time to make people seriously consider the idea of a female president, but I don’t think she’s a good test case. Too many people already dislike and distrust her, and the conservatives have spent a lot of time encouraging that and demonizing her, and the party would have to be insane not to realize that will be a problem. It’s going to be a hard enough fight to get the first female president elected; let’s not start with that kind of handicap.
    I also am not sure that it would be a good idea for Obama to run at this point either. He is definitely a great charismatic, unifying force, but I feel that he’s a bit too inexperienced at this point. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what he does over the next couple of years.

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  3. Jeff Block says:

    > Why will democratic control of congress be different than republican control?

    Because liberal thinking has support of the media, conservative thinking does not. I’m preparing to post a blog entry on this topic, so let’s save the debate for that point.

    1) I also want change in the Iraq policy. Here’s my problem. Please cite the stated strategy of the democratic party? I contend that they were elected solely on the “what we’re doing is broken; we’ll do *something* new” platform. I am no more comfortable with this than I was with “stay the course”. NEITHER is a plan. Where has this brilliant democratic plan you alude to been for the last year running up to this election?

    2) We’ll see. There are a LOT of people (not just crazy-left extremists) running around saying that Bush A) lied to take us to war and B) broke the law with many of the programs used to fight the war on terror, and C) loves to torture people. And you can find the drum of this opinion pounded almost daily by the mainstream media.

    3) Pleasee cite the economic benefits of raising taxes at this point. Also, please cite the evidence for “skyrocketing deficits”. Isn’t it true that deficits have actually fallen significantly this year, inspite of the war? I would love to see how much headway we could make if we could get out of Iraq (in a sensible way) and stop spending so much money over there?

    Of course, I believe that we should reduce both the budget deficit and the national debt, we will just probably never agree on HOW to do that. I believe this is done through REDUCING taxes and INCREASING the freedom business has to create wealth (then NOT spending it – where I differ from the last several years of Republican rule). You believe (I presume) this is done through INCREASING taxes and REDUCING the corporate assets available to create wealth. One of the biggest problems I have with your theory is that the money collected is then, very often, turned around and SPENT – on projects I would never support (such as entitlements) – and not actually used to pay down debt.

    4) Sorry for my poor phrasiology. I meant “crazy spending on entitlements”, not “spending on crazy entitlements”. I believe that the republicans have WAY overspent, including on entitlements. I contend that the democrats will be twice as bad.

    5) Both Neva and Chris make excellent points. I think a very likely ticket we could see is Hillary/Obama, but I agree that this ticket would have its challenges. Truthfully, I don’t know who either party will put up (and it’s really too early to speculate anyway), or who would win.

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  4. Neva says:

    1) I said I expect/hope to see a clear plan for Iraq, implying that I haven’t seen one yet either. Given all the talking the democrats have been doing about it and how big of a factor it was in this election, I trust that they’re going to have to come up with one in the very near future.
    2) Bush has done a lot of things I don’t approve of, some of which may be dishonest and illegal. And I’m not saying that impeachment won’t happen, just that I’d rather see effort focused on something more productive. Vengeance is always an unproductive activity in my mind.
    3) I meant that the deficit has increased under the current administration. They may have started reining it in over the past year, but isn’t it still higher than when they took office?
    I am not an economist and make no claims to fully understand economic theory and predictions. However, I am generally distrustful of corporations and their motivations (profit for their executives and shareholders) and do not believe that the country is best served by concentrating wealth in their hands. I do also believe in spending tax money to benefit the general public, but that must be done within reasonable limits and without bankrupting the country the way we’ve been doing.
    4) We’ll have to wait and see what happens with spending. I think there’s a big qualitative difference between types of spending, but I’m sure this is an area we are not going to agree on.

    I also disagree on the media being as liberal as you feel it is, but we can save this for a separate topic of its own.

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  5. Brad Bull says:

    Is it possible for Bush to be impeached without it being an act of vengance? Assuming he has done something worthy of impeachment.

    I supported repulican control for 1 reason in common with you Jeff, fiscal responsibility. And you are right that they blew it. I understand your support for a tax cut, but during a war…come on.

    It is misleading when you say they reduced the deficit. What they did was reduce the rate at which it is growing. To the best of my knowledge I don’t believe the deficit has actually shrunk since Clinton’s first term in office.

    I will echo Neva that you frequently complain about entitlements without specifically referring to anything.

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  6. Neva says:

    Hey Brad, welcome back.
    Yes, I suppose it would be possible for impeachment to happen without it being just a matter of vengeance. I am just concerned that if it happens that’s what it will turn into and that the entire political process will get focused on it and neglect the actual changes I would like to see a democratic congress make now that they have the opportunity to do so.

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  7. Neva says:

    As per Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), a likely candidate for Majority Whip in the House, here’s the democratic starting agenda for congress:

    1) Raise the minimum wage. The current rate was set nearly 10 years ago (1997). Cost of living has increased in that time, and minimum wage needs to follow to ensure that working Americans can maintain a basic standard of life.

    2) Give congress the ability to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost of medications provided through Medicare prescription drug benefits. At this point, only the plan providers can negotiate prices, rather than congress who is actually paying those prices.

    3) More fully implement the 9/11 commission recommendations to make our nation safer.

    4) Reform lobbying rules and reduce the level of corruption in congress.

    Thoughts on this announced agenda as compared to a speculative one?

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