Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Pendulum Swings Both Ways

It took about 35 years, but the Republican Party is just where it wants to be. They have a Congressional majority and are flush with the optimism of a political movement that they believe has broad popular support. They are looking forward to perhaps winning the presidency in 2016 and finally being able to implement the agenda that Ronald Reagan gave voice to in 1980. Democrats are supposed to be on the run. President Obama is spent.

It's a nice tale, this one. The problem is that it's full of inaccurate assumptions and leaves out the fact that the Republican Party is split and the far right has so far given no indication that they are in any mood to compromise. They will pass bills and send them to the president, and he will veto most of them. Obama will propose legislation that the Congress will not consider. In many ways, the gridlock will continue.

But there is cause for optimism on both sides. The GOP knows that they will be burnt toast in 2016 if they can't pass some kind of immigration bill that allows people to stay in this country with their families. They also know that they are on the wrong side of history when it comes to marriage equality and that very soon most southern states will be forced to recognize all marriages performed in other states. After all, this is the party that wants government out of people's lives and wants United States citizens to be free to follow the lives that they choose to live.

On health care, the Republicans will vote one more time, probably within a week or so, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then they will need to get serious about how they would implement health care without taking it away from the approximately 10 million people who've bought it on the exchanges or qualified for it under the expanded Medicaid program. It is true that the party could wait until the Supreme Court rules in June on whether people who bought policies on the federal exchange qualify for subsidies, but I believe that they will be disappointed. Supreme Court justices read the news and they know that denying people subsidies would cause a mammoth disruption in the lives of millions of people. John Roberts will once again come to President Obama's rescue and provide the fifth vote to uphold the law.

Democrats have essentially lost the fracking debate because not enough people are having their tap water catch fire to offset the millions of people who are now paying $2.00 for unleaded gasoline. Yes, Governor Cuomo outlawed fracking in New York State last year, but that will mean that upstate will remain an economic wasteland for years to come, but at least will have casinos so people with little money can lose it on their own rather than having to pay higher taxes.

The low gas prices will also make the XL Pipeline a moot point. There is little need now to push for more oil when oil producing states will be experiencing budget crises over the next year or so. If anything, many Republican lawmakers will need to hope that gas prices moderate a bit so they can pay for the services their constituents sorely need. That was a joke, by the way. In the end, though, low gas prices will provide a nice boost to the economy and another boost to American foreign policy, which will see much more pain for Russia, Iran and Venezuela.

What the GOP cannot argue, thought, is that much of this optimism and hope will greatly help President Obama. The economy is already improving and having people spend less on gas will help it more. Does the right believe that people will give the president no credit? If Russia and Iran have to pull back their dastardly initiatives because of falling revenue, does the GOP believe that they will get credit for that? Of course not. The president gets the blame when things go wrong and the credit when things go right, and an expanding economy is the number one issue on most Americans' minds.

Perhaps this is the moment when both parties realize that they do need to work together if they want to achieve anything, and activists on both sides will need to recognize that they will have to give something up in order for legislation to move forward. I can confidently say that there will be no broad tax cut this year, nor will an immigration bill contain a path to citizenship. There will be no carbon tax or an increase in the gasoline tax. The Common Core is not going away. Neither is Social Security or Medicare.

Our country was born of compromise. It's the only way we will move forward.

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  1. 1) The GOP is masterful at convincing people to vote against their self interest, so why would that not extend to ACA repeal?

    2) Why would Roberts do anything of the kind?

    3) It doesn't matter which way gas prices go - bad for Obama (

    4) We all know the stock market is up because people are anticipating a Republican President come January 2017.

    All I want to know is will the next presidential race be as fun as watching Ms Palin?

  2. They're not going to repeal the ACA, and more people are now finding that health care is a good thing, especially in red states. Roberts understands that nixing the subsidies would shock the system. He doesn't want to see that happen. FOX can say it, but the president will get credit for an upswing in the economy. Mr. Christie will make sure it's interesting.

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