Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

Summary: In 2011, the House will be run by Republicans, the Senate by Democrats, and the White House by President Obama.

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TOPICS: Banking
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Update: Somehow, I managed to give the Senate to the Republicans and the House to the Democrats. Fixed that in an edit. Sigh. There's never enough coffee.

This election was not about the traditional wedge issues that usually plague politics: abortion, religion, and gay marriage. Instead, this election was about economic ideology.

Read also: The Democrats deserve to lose, but do the Republicans deserve to win?

On the one side were the Democrats, with the general belief that you need to invest in programs to restore economic strength. On the other side were the Republicans. And then there was the Tea Party, which has seemed to coalesce around the idea of spending as little as possible.

The problem is, of course, that economic modeling can't be effectively reduced to 140-character sound bites. The other problem is that economics itself is a completely inexact science, and so the theories are just that: theories.

Even so, most Americans have a pretty good gut feel for what makes them nauseous. Trillion dollar deficits, changes to their health care that they can't predict, and a continuing bad feeling about the future make us all feel slightly queasy.

The result: a major loss for the Democrats in the House, a moderate loss in the Senate, and surprising gains for Tea Party candidates.

Loss of faith

Key to this election defeat was a loss of faith in President Obama's policies. His promises during the 2008 election cycle seemed to result in payoffs to big banks and insurance companies, but no real feeling of change to Joe the Baker.

So even though many of Obama's policies actually accomplished good, including probably fending off another Great Depression and pretty much turning around what was a constant, terrifying job drain, his policies didn't seem to accomplish good enough. The resulting nearly universal feeling of malaise was enough to provide a strong drubbing to the Dems.

So here we are. In 2011, the House will be run by Republicans, the Senate by Democrats, and the White House by President Obama.

Is the new gridlock the same as the old gridlock?

Normally, with a mixed body governing, you'd immediately assume a new level of gridlock in Washington. But there's nothing new here. Even with the Democrats' initial "super-majority" back in 2009, they were unable to move their agenda and so we've effectively had gridlock since Mr. Obama assumed office.

The interesting question is how things will change now that Speaker Boehner will be in charge?

Without a doubt, the Republican/Tea Party-held House will field some truly nutball bills, pandering to the extremists in their parties. These bills will create a lot of fuss, but will die in the Senate (if they even get there) and will have no real effect.

The big question is whether the GOP fields any reasonably constructive bills that will help America. If they do, we may actually have less gridlock with a divided Congress than we did before. That's because Harry Reid has a long record of giving into GOP bullying, and so, if the GOP can field anything even remotely sane, they're likely to be able to cajole Reid into going along.

It'll be interesting to see if the Republicans can balance their ideological extremes and actually do any good in Washington.

One final note. Both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman lost their bids. Although I didn't agree with them on policy issues, I was disappointed to see two strong tech candidates go down to defeat. I still hope that sometime in the future, we'll get some very strong, tech-aware candidates into positions of policy power in the United States.

Oh, well. There's always 2012.

Topic: Banking

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

    "In 2011, the House will be run by Democrats, the Senate by Republicans, and the White House by President Obama." One out of three facts right ... fire the editor!
    EdKett
    • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

      @EdKett Dang. Not enough coffee. That's what I get for staying up all night with election returns. Fixed. Thanks.
      David Gewirtz
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @David Gewirtz

        Your reference to Obama's policies paying off big to banks and insurance companies is a bit erroneous. Mr. Bush was the one who bailed out the big banks and Wall street. Obama's heathcare plan does benefit insurance companies to some extent but it also saves the budget 138 billion...
        ogoody50
      • more coffee

        @David Gewirtz Hi David, the mistake regarding the House and the Senate was small pototoes. But the following mistake indicates that you need a stimulant more powerful than caffiene:
        "Even with the Democrats? initial ?super-majority? back in 2009, they were unable to move their agenda and so we?ve effectively had gridlock since Mr. Obama assumed office."

        Obama got his healthcare bill. Obama got TARP2. Obama got financial reform. Obama got stimulus. You call this gridlock? You have either been
        asleep since January 2009, or your conservative bias is showing. Is gridlock a synonym for wishful thinking?

        Best to you.
        dc.martin@...
      • wow, mr. gewirtz ...

        @David Gewirtz <br>a reasonable post without phony outrage, click-baiting and tasteless provocations. yes, you can? more of it please, even when the topic is apple.
        banned from zdnet
  • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

    You still don't. It's what you call "ideological extremes" that got the Republicans re-elected. How dare the common everyday people not take what government has decided is best for them like an insane national debt and socialist healthcare that will skyrocket costs.
    macdonalds
    • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

      @macdonalds I love how often the healthcare issue is framed in super-scary terms like "Socialist!" (It seems to always have an exclamation point after it, even when it doesn't.) What if police and fire protection were "benefits" you lost when you lost your job? Some things are just universally needed, like fire, police and medical. Do you call the fire department a socialist institution? It's a lot cheaper on all of us if medical is done early through regular care and not later in emergency rooms.
      JoeFoerster
      • A better analogy

        would be you losing your personal security contingent when you lost your job. Except that your strawman packs a more visceral emotional punch.
        frgough
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @frgough
        Again, you do not use the term correctly. This is NOT what straw man argument means. Your supposedly "better" analogy makes me wonder if you can correctly define the term "socialist," either.

        Besides which, the point is perfectly sound.
        DeusXMachina
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @JoeFoerster - I don't know about you but I doubt most people understand what the term "socialist" really means in the first place. If they actually bothered to do any research at all (beyond a dictionary that is) *and* attempt to understand said research, they'd probably be very surprised to find out that most (US) "small town" politics are rather socialist in nature, never mind city, state and federal. Our democracy today is hardly pure and actually never was since the beginning.<br><br>And they say ignorance is bliss. Well it might be until reality comes slamming down on their heads.
        bandersnatch42vt
    • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

      @macdonalds Socialist Healthcare? Really? Socialist? Really? How do you define socialism? Words have specific meanings. Our highways and roads are socialist, our police, fire, and most ambulance service is socialist, our public schools are socialist, parks service, medicare, medicaid, and social security, the US armed services, these are all socialist institutions (and no one has suffered from their existence), but the new healthcare law? Not socialist.
      technology@...
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @technology@... Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..
        <a href="http://www.universaldegrees.com/universaldegrees/programs/undergraduate-diploma-program.asp">online undergraduate diploma</a> <a href="http://www.universaldegrees.com/universaldegrees/programs/graduate-certificate-program.asp">online graduate certificate</a> <a href="http://www.universaldegrees.com/universaldegrees/doctoral-degree.asp">life experience doctorate degree</a> <a href="http://www.universaldegrees.com/universaldegrees/high-school-diploma.asp">online high school diploma</a>
        silvermessenger
    • Would you want a member of your family ...

      @macdonalds ... turned away from an ER because you could not afford to pay for healthcare? <br><br>The question to be answered is whether anyone should be denied healthcare because they cannot afford to pay for it? If the answer is NO, then we need to find away to provide access to healthcare to ALL AMERICANS! <br><br>The healthcare plan pass by Congress is just one way to do that. Whether it is the rght approach or not is a completely different question. The main benefit of the bill passed by Congress is thet it prevents denial of coverage due to (1) pre-existing conditions or (2) liability limits.<br><br>Only a portion of the problem of the high-cost of healthcare is bureacracy. Part of it is the fact that the insurance industry is completely unregulated. Another part of the problem is that there are too few primary care physicians. <br><br>The high litigation rate for bad outcomes (and outrageous jury awards) leads to high malpractice premiums which leads to higher costs. <br><br>All of these factors lead to higher costs. Demographics pay a huge role as well. People used to live 3-5 years past retirement. Now they live 20 years past retirement. Medicare cannot begint o pick up the slack when baby boomers are going to live for twenty years after they retire. <br><br>These costs will never go down. All we can do is attempt to reduce waste and corruption and then decide the extent of services we are going to provide.<br><br>Ultimately, we will have to decide whether the 80-year-old gets a liver-transplant or the premature baby gets a chance at life or 1000 kids get a vaccination. OR, we are going to have to leave it to everyone to be resposnible for their own healthcare. <br><br>There isn't a lot of middle ground.
      M Wagner
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @mwagner@... Escalating malpractice judgments and insurance rates are a canard of the right that has been thoroughly debunked.

        http://www.factcheck.org/president_uses_dubious_statistics_on_costs_of.html

        This is what I mean by monied interests fabricating and disseminating falsehoods to convince the middle class to vote against their own best interests. The president referred to in the included link Is W Geo. the Worst.

        (SEE my comment below.)

        The middle ground lies in taxing the Uberrich at confiscatory rates until some of the money they stole with the aid of their bought and paid for political operatives is returned to the Treasury.

        Remember, they have stolen trillions since the eighties. When RayGun entered office the upper tax bracket was around 70% and not too long before that it was in the nineties. And no one griped about it or threatened to leave the country to escape it. In modern times it has only beensince Reagan that the superrich have openly displayed the Gilded Age greed and arrogance that has since become the norm.

        And before someone says the rich deserve it, or they made it, etc. I suggest you read <u>Wealth and Democracy</u> and <u>The Politics of Rich and Poor</u>, two great books by <b>conservative</b> author Kevin Phillips.
        cdmsr
    • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

      @macdonalds The "insane national debt" is wholly owned by the GOP. It ballooned after moRon Raygun opened the Treasury's doors so it could be raided by the rich. Clinton balanced the budget -- with a tax increase on the plutocrats -- and actually paid some against the debt. The last balanced budget before Clinton's was Nixon's first, when he adopted LBJ's lame duck budget.

      Reagan's ludicrous 'trickle-down' supply-side economics (Quotes: Geo. H.W. Bush, "Voodoo economics"; Bill Maher: "They're practically telling you they're pis*ing on you.") resulted in monster deficits and anemic (18% GDP) growth.

      And George the Worst inherited Clinton's $86 billion surplus and left a $1.5 TRILLION deficit. But, then, Darth Cheney did say Reagan had proved that deficits don't matter. So W emulated Ronnie and gave ruinous tax cuts to, as W himself called them "...the Haves and Have mores...my base." Then lied us into a ruinous unfunded war and Voila! Insane national debt!

      And why is it that when someone attacks government programs that help the middle-class working families of America they invoke socialism, but if you hand billions to the richest quintile, well, that's fine by them. The opposite of capitalism isn't socialism. It is laborism, a political philosophy that considers the role and condition of labor (the working class) paramount in society. Capitalism, by definition, favors the plutocratic capitalists (the parasite class.) That is about an 85/15 (or greater) split in favor of workers. An honest evaluation of one's social position would put the vast majority of US citizens in the working class, yet so many of them vote and favor public policies as if they believe they're going to win the Powerball this week.

      Which is why Rupert Murdoch, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers, <i>et al.</i> spend so much to spread blatant lies and promote wedge issues. People need to use their brains, come back down to earth, turn off Fox Noise and quit working against their own interests.
      cdmsr
    • How quickly we forget.

      @macdonalds
      At the end of the Bush administration, our national debt stood at around 11 trillion dollars. 9 trillion of that came from Republican administrations, and if I am not mistaken, during the last 50 years or so the Democrats were the only party that had a budget surplus. The largest run up of the national debt in terms of percentage and actual dollars also came under Republicans.
      richdave
      • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

        @richdave Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the surplus created with a Republican controlled congress and the "GOP" run up of the national debt primarily during Democratic run congresses? I will give that the last time the Republicans were in control of congress they acted more like Democrats when it came to spending, that won't happen a gain.
        non-biased
    • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

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      silvermessenger
  • RE: Election results 2010: Welcome to the new gridlock

    Don't review election results while looking in the mirror...
    LagunaMatata
  • Oops!! Proof reader is Spell Check??

    YOU NEED TO MAKE A CORRECTION!!
    Quote from your article.
    "So here we are. In 2011, the House will be run by Democrats, the Senate by Republicans, and the White House by President Obama."
    tangentjohn@...