What worries me about Nov. 6 is it could turn out to be a status-quo election.
President Barack Obama remains the favorite to squeak by in a very close race. Thanks in part to Republican Todd Akin’s struggles in Missouri, Senate Democrats are now favored to prolong their majority.
The House, meantime, is expected to stay in Republican hands, though the GOP’s 25-seat edge may drop by a few.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that arrangement, except this: That’s the setup we have now.
And what we have now is gridlock, obstinacy and an utter unwillingness to compromise to solve the huge spending and tax issues this country faces in the weeks immediately after the Nov. 6 election.
That’s when this country faces the very real prospect of flying off the “fiscal cliff” and a set of decisions that could trigger another recession.
You don’t hear many people saying they’re confident of a break in the congressional logjam that nearly led to default in the summer of 2011. An even-steven election would mean that voters were offering no new direction even after all the vitriol. That could lead Republicans and Democrats to conclude that voters were endorsing their point of view.
They might just dig in deeper.
But this week, a few rays of sunlight broke through that may smooth the creases on all those worried brows out there. Take the news that the chief executive of more than 80 major U.S. corporations — from Aetna Inc. to Weyerhaeuser, as The Wall Street Journal put it — were demanding that Congress reduce the federal deficit not only with spending cuts, as Republicans have insisted, but also with tax increases.
The executives, who were noticeably silent during the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011, are just the type of outside-the-Beltway voices needed to redirect thinking.
Also percolating is the increasing possibility that several far-right lawmakers who back the no-compromise, no-tax-increase-mantra may go down in flames. Among them: Senate contenders Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana and House Republicans Allen West, Michele Bachmann and Steve King.
If Obama wins and Democrats maintain Senate control, the GOP will go through a vigorous hand-wringing over how the party allowed a Democratic president struggling with a still-moribund economy to be re-elected. And Republicans will work to understand how a Senate primed to flip remained Democratic. One outcome of that introspection could be that the party’s unyielding stands have got to go.
Or if Mitt Romney wins, and Republicans pick up key seats, it could lead to the conclusion that Democrats who held out for “revenue enhancements” and absolutely no tinkering with entitlements were off-base.
Surprise, surprise. Maybe the logjam will loosen after all.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to email@example.com.