Blue Dog, Old Dog
Hope and Betrayal
A sense of hope betrayed depresses the enthusiasm of those democrats whose early support of Mr. Obama now feels like an embarrassing one night stand, hopefully never to be discussed again. They felt unable to vote for a republican but stayed home.
The smoke clears. The entire democratic house leadership team and 60 democrat members have been fired.
See The Malpractice Tsunami – http://www.jaygaskill.com/CongressionMalpractice.htm .
In the Senate, a more subtle change in the balance of power has taken place. The surviving Blue Dog Democrats who weren’t on the ballot this cycle are strengthened in their blue doggedness -some will approach DINO (democrats in name only) status.
In a dog-eat-dog race in Idaho, an authentic Tea Party supported democrat, Congressman Walt Minnick, was defeated by a Tea Party supported republican, Paul Labrador, an Hispanic man raised in Puerto Rico, who took on Minnick’s anti-immigration campaign as racist.
In West Virginia, former Democratic governor Joe Manchin defeated the republican for Robert Byrd’s old Senate seat, but Manchin made a point of openly turning against President Obama, earning the status of neo-Blue Dog.
In Washington State the Murray (Obama-crat) vs. Rossi (Tea Party) race is extremely close, but the democrat is a whisker ahead.
Harry Reid emerges a winner, but much diminished in status – the whiff of scandal will dog him and the ideological shift in the country will weaken him.
My prediction: The actual behavior of this Senate will be more conservative than the net change of 6 votes might otherwise indicate. The psychological ripple effect of Russ Feingold’s defeat, the loss of Mr. Obama’s seat, the Blue Dog conversion of Senator elect Manchin will move voting patterns to the right. There will be no more cover.
In California, the new governor is Old Dog, Jerry Brown, who ran as a tough fiscal conservative.
There are a number of ways to look at these results, but the single unifying idea can be expressed in a single word: bankruptcy.
One might paraphrase Bill Clinton’s famous slogan, “It’s the debt load, stupid!” Greece, Spain, New York and California: Just to list these pending bankruptcies is a chilling message. The voters get it. Now it’s time for the elected officials to set about fixing it before it is too late.
The national debt load is rapidly driving north of sixteen trillion dollars – this alarming trend needs to be projected against annualized 2010 federal revenue of 4.5 trillion dollars.
Any pay-down of the debt would require routinely running a fiscal surplus. Imagine accomplishing just that when at least half of every federal dollar now being spent by the current administration is borrowed. No member of the administration or the former congressional leadership was willing or able to propose a way to stop the hemorrhage.
That task may fall to our creditors. The deep pockets of China propping up the US economy? Not for much longer…..
As a thought experiment, assume that somehow the present fiscal bleeding is staunched: To achieve a 50% reduction in national indebtedness by allocating 20% of current revenue each year (leaving the federal government with about 40% of its current expenditure levels after achieving balance budgets) would take about nine years. Alternatively, to accomplish the same goal in 9 years without cutting spending, solely by raising taxes, would increase the overall tax burden 120%.
The supply-side economics crowd have argued that the US economy can be teased into a sustained pattern of growth that will mitigate this grim picture, but only if we hold the line on taxes and non-productive spending. I tend to agree.
The congressional leader to watch: US Congressman Paul Ryan, R, Wisconsin. See http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/ and David Brooks September 13, NYT column “The Day After Tomorrow”
“Republicans are riding a wave of revulsion about what is happening in Washington. But it is also time to start talking about the day after tomorrow, after the centralizing forces are thwarted. I hope that as Arthur Brooks and Paul Ryan lead a resurgent conservatism, they’ll think about the limited-but-energetic government tradition, which stands between Barry Goldwater and François Mitterrand, but at the heart of the American experience.”
Jay B Gaskill is a California lawyer who served as the Alameda County Public defender before her left his “life of crime” to devote full time to writing. His profile is posted at www.jaygaskill.com/Profile.pdf .
Read Jay B Gaskill’s Near-Future Thriller, The Stranded Ones, available for purchase as an e-book download for your Nook, I-Pad, Droid, Kindle or other reader from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other e-book sellers.