Thursday, November 04, 2010

Somebody's Gotta Win in 2012

Grover Norquist says that in 2012 the Republicans will "own" Congress, with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It's possible, I suppose. A terrible economy gave the Republicans a lot of momentum, and freedom to run a substance-free campaign this time around. Things could remain bad.

It's one of those odd things about elections, though... a lot can change in two years. Even if Norquist turns out to be correct there's a legitimate question as to whether they would have done even better in 2012 without their present majority in the House. Seriously, since healthcare reform passed they have had the Democrats in the Senate so tied up in knots, the odds are the legislative process would have remained locked up through the next election anyway. Now they risk being held responsible for gridlock, and risk being held accountable for failing to produce legislation.

So far, so bad? They're apparently going to balance the budget by spending more money. And even the Wall Street Journal appears prepared to hold their feet to the fire.
That isn't politics; it's arithmetic. The Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, crafted an illustrative scenario to get the deficit down to 3% of the overall economy by 2015.

On the list: a 75% cut in federal farm subsidies, a 50% cut in vocational and adult education, a 14.5% cut in the defense budget, an 8% cut for the National Institutes of Health, a 5% cut for the FBI, a 3.1% cut in veterans' disability benefits, etc.

A left-right plan by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and National Taxpayers Union would wipe out $62 billion in business subsidies.

Brian Riedl at the conservative Heritage Foundation says he can save $343 billion next year. His recipe: Cut $15 billion in farm subsidies, $10 billion in aid to states, $8 billion in aid to college students, $8 billion more by lower cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security and other benefits, and so on. Will Republicans embrace any of these?

With control of the House, Republicans will have to offer and try to pass a budget of their own next year. That offers a test of their spending-cut resolve. This is going to be interesting.
The next two years, and perhaps most importantly the next year, will let us know how good a politician Barack Obama really is. He is free, now, to hold Congress accountable for its inaction. Whatever happens, the word "interesting" seems fair.

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