Election 2012: why status quo result could mean more Washington gridlock
Serious business awaits the nation's lawmakers, the 'fiscal cliff' foremost. But the results of Election 2012 could give Washington's main players cause to dig in their heels.
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"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control," the minority leader said in a statement. "Now it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office."Skip to next paragraph
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And then, of course, there is Mr. Obama, who won a narrow majority of the popular vote but a resounding triumph in the Electoral College to earn him a second term. Obama has repeatedly vowed to veto any legislation extending tax cuts for households with income over $250,000 and has no reason to back down from that stance now.
In an analysis just before the election that laid out roughly this same situation, former Democratic budget staffer Stan Collender wrote, “in other words, obstruction and unwillingness to compromise will continue to be the orders of the day.”
Partisan gridlock is so fierce in Washington that bipartisan bills including the Violence Against Women Act, the farm bill, and cybersecurity legislation can’t make it to the president’s desk.
More pressing, however is that the nation faces expiring fiscal policy on Jan. 1 that would hit the US economy with more than $600 billion in spending cuts and increased taxes. That blow will send the economy into a recession in at least the first half of 2013, economists predict.
Those are the financial issue in six weeks. The issue over the coming 10 years, outside analysts agree, is reforming the American tax code, spending priorities, and entitlement programs to keep the US from reaching critical levels of debt relative to economic output.
And let’s not forget the debt ceiling. Political warfare over the limit on government borrowing during the summer of 2011 caused one credit rating agency to downgrade America’s debt for fear the US could not come to political compromises on even rudimentary matters.
“Having the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and the White House and Congress come together during the lame-duck session on the precise list of issues that has separated them the most assumes they’ll be able to do in four weeks what they haven’t been able to do over the past four years,” Mr. Collender wrote in a subsequent commentary.
“No big budget deal during the lame duck means that the disconcerting 2011 budget debate most likely will be replicated and then some in 2013. The real difference is that with the 2011 experience still fresh, we know how bad this could really be.”
IN PICTURES: Election Day 2012 – America votes!