Election 2014

What to Expect from a GOP Congress

Will it matter if the Republicans retake Congress next month?

|

Fewer judges will get confirmed. Those who make it through the Senate will be more moderate. And the Obama administration will face an onslaught of investigative oversight hearings on everything from Benghazi and Obamacare to the Secret Service.

That's about what you can expect if the Republicans hold the House and win a Senate majority in next month's election. As for the rest of the agenda touted by Republican congressional leaders—tax reform, entitlement reform, tort reform, deregulation, school choice—don't hold your breath.

Political donors are pouring millions into Senate races based in part on the assumption that firing Democrat Harry Reid as the Senate majority leader would be a big deal. And it would be a big deal. But if the Republicans do in fact find themselves with majorities in both the House and Senate, the post-election euphoria will wear off pretty quickly once the Republicans and their agenda start to confront the political reality that President Obama will have the veto power and that in the Senate, any majority short of 60 votes can still be blocked by a determined minority.

Even claims that at least a Republican Congress, unlike a Democratic one, at least won't do any more damage are undermined by the fact that President Obama has expressed and demonstrated a willingness to act on his own, without congressional action.

While Republicans haven't issued a Newt Gingrich-style "Contract With America" this year, the GOP has been more or less transparent about their plans. In a September 19 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the speaker of the House, John Boehner, outlined a five-point policy agenda that included corporate and individual tax simplification, reform of the entitlement programs that dominate government spending, civil litigation reform, regulatory reform, and education reform. I wish him the best of luck in getting any of that past President Obama, but I sure wouldn't bet on his chances of success.

On October 2, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, gave his own speech detailing 11 "Principles for American Renewal." One of the principles is a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Again, good luck getting that one past President Obama.

The Senate-majority-leader in waiting, Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, told Republican donors that Congressional Republicans would push back on the federal bureaucracy in spending bills with riders restricting certain expenditures: "No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We're going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency." If precedent is any guide, President Obama will go ahead and do whatever he wants, notwithstanding these laws. By the time the courts sort it all out, it will be Hillary Clinton's problem, and by then, the voters (in a higher turnout 2016 election with a more Democrat-friendly Senate map) may have reinstalled Majority Leader Reid, or Durbin, or Schumer.

So, if we can't expect major legislative progress, such as tax reform or an Obamacare repeal, to be enacted into law so long as President Obama is in the White House, what can be expected from a Republican Congress?

There will be plenty of hearings and congressional investigations aimed at discrediting the 2016 Democratic presidential contenders. Anyone who worked for Hillary Clinton's State Department may want to consult with the IRS information technology department for tips on how to permanently "lose" emails.

Judges and executive branch officials nominated by the Obama administration will have a tougher time getting confirmed than they do now, no matter what Senate Republicans decide about whether to reverse the "nuclear option" rules adopted by the Harry Reid Democrats over Republican protest.

And there will be plenty of theatrics involving the House and Senate passing bills that they know President Obama will veto. These are "bludgeon bills," not intended to become law, just to make political points.

As for genuine compromise of the sort that brought a Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and Trent Lott to work with Bill Clinton to pass welfare reform and a capital gains tax cut—well, stranger things have happened. But it's the longest of long shots. Obama has spoken in favor of regulatory reform, charter schools, corporate tax reform, and immigration reform, which are all things that Republicans have spoken in favor of, too.

But the last time Republicans took over Congress—the Tea Party Republican victory that made John Boehner speaker back in 2010—all talk of a "grand bargain" deteriorated quickly into shutdown threats and tax increases.

To achieve policy successes as grand as the ones Boehner and Priebus are talking about, one needs the popular mandate that comes with a victory not just in a midterm election but in a presidential year.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Obamacare Tradeoff Game: Hospital Penalties Reduce Readmissions but Hurt Hospitals that Serve the Poor

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. By the time the courts sort it all out, it will be Hillary Clinton’s problem

    People around here don’t think so! Rand Paul is going to kick her ass in 2016!

    1. We’ll probably never know. The GOP will never let Rand get the nomination. And if they did, Rand might not beat Hillary, but I will say this. He is the only Republican that can beat her. Jersey Fats, Boosh numero tres, and Rombama Redux will all lose by near landslide.

      1. So here’s a question. Do you think Hillary would be better or worse than Bush/Obama?

        1. Pre-Obama: better
          Post-Obama: worse

      2. He is the only Republican that can beat her.

        I’ve been saying exactly this for a while. The Democrats have the rest of the Republican field down pat. They know their strategy and they know how to counter it. They’ll run a substanceless campaign and the Democrats will pound them with idiotic identity issues until they make them look like Satan’s not-as-nice little brother.

    2. hahahaha, stop skipping school, child

  2. Sorry, the GOP won’t take the Senate, thanks to Kansas GOP going for another six years with Roberts. I do wonder if the Establishment GOP will take hits for backing Roberts like the tea party did for the
    “witch” candidate from Delaware? Specter was another well past his “use by” date, and McCain is another who should be asked to retire and not run again.

    1. You realize, that even if you assume that Roberts loses, the GOP will still likely take the Senate?

    2. It’s pretty even right now, so I’m guessing that either the GOP takes the Senate or they narrowly miss it. I give the GOP a slight edge. If I had to wager on it, I’ll take the GOP to win it.

      I really, really want them to take it. Not because I think they will do anything good. I just don’t think anything will get done, which is typically the better scenario, and that they will torment Obama night and day without pause. It’s a WIN/WIN.

  3. As for genuine compromise of the sort that brought a Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and Trent Lott to work with Bill Clinton to pass welfare reform and a capital gains tax cut

    The biggest difference then was Bill Clinton. Clinton, for all his faults wasn’t nearly and delusional as Obama. You think the CHOSEN ONE would ever compromise with a bunch of racist anarchist?

    1. President Obama failed to work with his own party more often than not.

      1. in your useless opinion

    2. Clinton slid to the right in that situation. Obama is incapable of that. I’ve said it a thousand times around here. The man is incapable of ever admitting that he is wrong, that his agenda is misguided, and trying to work with the opposition because maybe Americans have sent the message that this is what they want. Obama does not care about what Americans want, he only cares about his agenda and about being adored, which he is not so much.

      But, beautiful deadlock!

      1. it never occurs to you that you
        might be misguided

    3. “As for genuine compromise of the sort that brought a Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and Trent Lott to work with Bill Clinton to pass welfare reform and a capital gains tax cut”

      Wasn’t that when the top regular rates were 36% and 39% ?

      I think so – cause I ended up paying the higher one after I sold one of my businesses!

      Comparing apples to apples, I suspect federal tax rates are lower now than they were under that Great Compromise. So perhaps Obama deserves credit for the packages that we have now??

      1. Wrong. Marginal rates including BarryCare, which was made even more evilly progressive, are in excess of 42%. He certainly deserves the blame for stealing at the highest level in decades.

        1. “Wrong. Marginal rates including BarryCare, which was made even more evilly progressive, are in excess of 42%”

          You are missing the point! REPUBLICANS voted along with DEMOCRATS for the current rates, so it counts as working together.

          Moreover, I suspect that we normal individuals…say making 200K per year… paying the same or less than we paid under the Clinton/GOP plan.

          Let’s check it out…..

          Today – 200K – a quick calc shows a total of about 40K or 20% owed on 200K…
          (2 dependents, 1 personal exemption)

          1999 – 200K – you would owe
          40,432 PLUS 36% of the amount over 158 – so about 55K minus the exemptions – say about 10K total at the time (less, actually, I think)

          So, that would be 45K in taxes under Clinton/GOP and 40K under Obama/GOP.

          Do you claim that taxes are higher today for most upper middle class taxpayers than they were then?

          Are you really in that high of a bracket that you are subject to 42% marginal? Congratulations!

          1. Hi, there asshole!

            craiginmass|10.6.14 @ 10:58PM|#
            “You are missing the point! REPUBLICANS voted along with DEMOCRATS for the current rates, so it counts as working together.”
            No, asshole, per normal YOU are missing the point. See the reference to the O-care fiasco in there? See that? Try reading it again; it’s in there.

            “Today – 200K – a quick calc shows a total of about 40K or 20% owed on 200K…
            (2 dependents, 1 personal exemption)”
            Bullshit, asshole. I wish I got clear with only 20% of my money wasted on your stupidity.

            “Do you claim that taxes are higher today for most upper middle class taxpayers than they were then?
            Are you really in that high of a bracket that you are subject to 42% marginal? Congratulations!”
            I don’t claim it, asshole I pay it. And your cheerleading and lies make no difference at all.

            1. Sevo, with all the details you provide, you sure showed him. Sorry drone, you know the drill, you don’t show your work, you get no credit. now back to your homework…

            2. Facts are stubborn things, my friend…..they keep on being facts no matter what you say or do!

              Effective tax rates are lower than under Reagan or Clinton, etc.

              In fact, they hit the lowest ever in modern times under Big O, although the bipartisan sequester bill brought them back up from those historical lows…to just a normal low level.

              http://www.factcheck.org/2012/…..-30-years/

        2. more childish name calling
          go back to school, child

  4. Serious question, the things you mentioned as “compromises” (welfare reform and capital gains tax cut) are now entirely GOP pushed issues.

    I’m not that old, were those really compromises back then? If so, doesn’t that display to a great degree how far to the left Obama and current Democrats have gone?

    1. If the Dems slide anymore to the left it’s possible they might go full circle and come out on the far right.

      1. it’s understood you know nothing
        about politics

    2. No, they weren’t really compromises, they were necessities.

      Note that in Europe, both the left and the right have gone along with such reforms because they realized the same thing.

    3. “I’m not that old, were those really compromises back then?

      NO, the GOP spent all their time and energy trying to undercut Clinton with everything from Whitewater to HairGate to Monica…..

      I was there. I can assure you that it was just like today – the GOP did not accept Clinton as POTUS and spent all their time digging up dirt and attacking him…to the point of impeachment.

      The good old days…were not!

      1. Wrong again. cf. Welfare reform.

        1. “Wrong again. cf. Welfare reform.”

          Talking point. Not real money involved. Mostly just social reforms….but, yes, it was done together in the sense that the Prez signed it….

          Also, it was not really a compromise and working together. Clinton was not really into it but signed it because he didn’t want to be seen as vetoing everything.

          Also, the program is/was not a measured success…again, more of a talking point and red meat…

          “The TANF program does not offer benefits sufficient to lift recipients out of poverty, and despite a strong economy, the majority of families who have moved off the TANF rolls have remained in poverty. Considerations of another traditional economic goal, reduction of inequality, only makes matters worse. Welfare reform has coincided with massive growth in income and wealth disparities; it has done little to slow the expansion of inequality and may have actually accelerated the trend. Has welfare reform created job opportunities for the poor? Has it promoted wages that allow low-wage workers to escape poverty? In both of these areas, the economic story remains the same: we have little evidence that reform has produced achievements that warrant the label of success.”

          1. Clinton was not really into it but signed it because he didn’t want to be seen as vetoing everything.

            Yeah, it’s not like he campaigned promising to “end welfare as we know it” or anything.

        2. Hi again, asshole!
          (1)
          craiginmass|10.6.14 @ 11:04PM|#
          “Talking point.”
          Lie

          “Also, it was not really a compromise and working together. Clinton was not really into it but signed it because he didn’t want to be seen as vetoing everything.”
          Bullshit claim from bullshitter.

          “Also, the program is/was not a measured success…again, more of a talking point and red meat…”
          More lies, and your un-linked claim proves it, asshole, so:

          “”The TANF program does not offer benefits sufficient to lift recipients out of poverty, and despite a strong economy, the majority of families who have moved off the TANF rolls have remained in poverty.”
          Yes, so we’re not paying them and they are where they were? My goodness! What a great reason to keep stealing my money!

          1. (2)
            “Considerations of another traditional economic goal, reduction of inequality, only makes matters worse.”
            Bullshit claim; poisoning the well. Did you write those lies, asshole?

            “Welfare reform has coincided with massive growth in income and wealth disparities; it has done little to slow the expansion of inequality and may have actually accelerated the trend.”
            So what?

            “Has welfare reform created job opportunities for the poor? Has it promoted wages that allow low-wage workers to escape poverty? In both of these areas, the economic story remains the same: we have little evidence that reform has produced achievements that warrant the label of success.”
            But we have evidence WE are not paying for layabouts and we have NO evidence it has caused any harm.
            Want my money? Fine; tell me what’s gained, not the bullshit you posted, asshole

    4. Essentially yes. And it gets to a point made earlier. Clinton was the kind of guy who could shift right. Remember, his major base of support was the Democratic Leadership Council, which got broken up by the Democrats as “Republican light”. He ran his 1992 campaign claiming to be a “new kind of Democrat”. He shifted left after the election and shifted back right when the Republicans took Congress.

  5. They would probably pass the bipartisan anti-patent trolling bill, and Obama would likely sign it. That bill has been held up solely because of Harry Reid.

  6. Mr. Stoll, an amendment to the US Constitution needn’t have any formal involvement of the president, so the Republicans wouldn’t need to put one past Obama.

  7. Hope and change again? More like “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

  8. And the GOP has to dump Rancid Penis.

  9. Nothing because they don’t have the White House? Nothing because FYTW? Nothing because they are just a watered down version of the Democrats?

  10. What to expect from the GOP? Just a similar form of thievery and slavery than the libs practiced. They all need to go home, and leave us be. I don’t need Someone in a fancy suit to “run” things, because they will run it further into the ground.

    Obamacare? Romneycare?? Why aren’t folks lining up to have surgeries done by those two if they know so much about healthcare? Why don’t folks call up ole Bill Deblasio to pave their driveway? Need security? Why not call John McCain? Could it be McCain will be warring with everyone and just might be too much of a risk to your business and neighbors because many would retaliate against a war mongering guy like him?

    These politicians do nothing but cause more bloodshed, violence, strip away more rights, rob like no tomorrow, and create ultimate chaos. The slavers that keep saying “we need government” need to go hang out with folks that dominate them, and beat them up, imprison them or whatever. Pay for that service by yourself, keep lying to yourself by saying “if we only had the right people, or the right funds would things be better” nonsense, and leave free individuals the hell alone.

    How many times are they going to try government over and over again while expecting different results?

    1. You know, looking back over more than two centuries of US history, it’s pretty clear that messy as the system appears to be, in the long run, things generally get better. So spare us your ennui and cynicism. US politics does matter, and voters and the people can influence it.

    2. exactly. the government needs to be overthrown and replaced with people who have a clue.

      1. Turd.Burglar.

      2. well, you sure wouldn’t be one of them

  11. Republicans are trending to win enough elections to take the Senate because people are figuring out the ACA sucks, don’t want gun control, and are tired of wars.

    Therefore the Republican base will sideline Rand Paul, and hit the campaign trail hard with right-to-life and traditional marriage, thus snatching defeat from the hands of victory.

    1. wait wait. The Republicans are the anti-war party? Didn’t Hanoi Jane John McCain go so far to push us into Syria, not a year ago, as to go to Syria to photo op with the FSA? This even as news reports were coming out linking FSA to Al Qaeda?

      I agree with the first two points. Judging from the comment sections at Fox News or Blaze or any conservative page on facebook, wanting to go to war is more of a plus for the Republicans right now so far as their base is concerned. Obama isn’t going far enough for them.

    2. guess you want the single payer
      that would replace obamacare
      welcome to our side

  12. “any majority short of 60 votes can still be blocked by a determined minority.”

    All bets are off since the Dems went nuclear. I can’t wait to hear them squeal when their own “innovation” is turned against them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_option

    1. Does Nuclear include the POTUS signature? Or make it so 51 can override a veto? I need to read more…

    2. they only went “nuclear” over judges
      try learning something

  13. What I find really depressing is that I really am not that interested in politics. I just want to live my life. But because politicians over the decades/centuries since America’s founding have allowed incursions over our rights as outlined in the constitution, for “the greater good” or their own benefit or whatever it was at the time, we now have lawmakers and an imperial president who can do pretty much whatever they want to deprive us of our rights, so long as they remain personally popular. Disgusting. It really shouldn’t make that much difference who is in power because they shouldn’t have that much power over us and over how we interact with each other.

    1. so, what rights have you been deprived
      of, airhead? keep watching fox news
      and stay stupid

      1. I think the best answer to this question would be, “All of them.”

        Find me a right (a negative right, if you don’t know what the word means) and I’ll show you where the government violated it multiple times. Then I’ll show you where the court approved of the violation.

      2. Obviously you haven’t been watching anything more politically substantial than your barnyard porn collection. Seriously, you didn’t see the stormtroopers in Boston raiding homes door to door, in violation of our constitution? Or how about being forced to purchase a product or else have the IRS crawl up your ass. Or how about federal agents demanding to see ID at so-called border checkpoints 100s of miles away from the border. You are a total fuckstick.

  14. Well, now that the Republicans have a pretty good chance of taking the Senate, I’ve started to hear a lot of the voices that insisted that they shouldn’t push limited government “because we only control the House; just wait till we get the House and Senate!” now start to tell me that I’ll have to wait until they get control of the House and Senate and the White House. It’s pretty much working like I predicted. Any takers on whether I’ll hear that “we can’t jeopardize our Republican majority” if they manage that again? Meanwhile these same people tell me that “Ermigad!!!! This is the most important election EVER!!!! If the Republicans don’t take the Senate, the Democrats will push a bunch of commie-pinko-hippie-liberal judges on us!!” Strangely, though, none of these people have told me what judges it are that are stepping down in the next two years to make way for these appointments.

  15. Republicans and Democrats are both in favor of regulatory reform, charter schools, corporate tax reform, and immigration reform. They just have completely different and opposing ideas of what we should do.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.