You heard it here first, but more important is to get it right from here on out.
In July 2009, in an article in this space entitled “2010,” I wrote:
Next year’s elections are going to produce a political earthquake. That is because we currently suffer the most left-wing government in our nation’s history. After just 6 months in office, the flower children that rule Washington in overwhelming numbers are already smashing through all records regarding federal taxes, spending, deficits, and debt. Obama and his ultra-left Democrats adopted a so-called stimulus bill raising spending a trillion dollars that never had a prayer of actually creating jobs and promoting long-term economic growth, because it was based entirely on old-fashioned, brain dead, proven to fail, Keynesian economics.
Among the specific political predictions in the article: “Turncoat Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania will also be retired next year, when he will find that an 80 year old, opportunist, RINO Republican is not going to appeal to Democrat primary voters any more than Republican primary voters.”
In October, 2009, in an article in this space entitled, “Acting Like a Bunch of Christies,” I wrote,
“I know they don’t know it yet. But the Democrat Party is in a death spiral similar to the last days of the wooly mammoth during the Ice Age. Forget about 1994 and 1980. There is no precedent for what is coming….By next year, the disasters will not be here yet, but enough Americans will see what’s coming to produce the first political earthquake.”
In a column a month later I argued that the greatest danger for Republicans for this year is that they will underestimate their strength and as a result not win all the races they could have won. See now, e.g., New York.
Notice that I got both today’s politics and today’s economics right in these articles well over a year ago. I bring that up so that you will know where to go to find out what’s happening next.
The first implication of what happened yesterday is that President Obama has lost control of the Democrat party. Don’t expect any Congressional Democrats to blindly follow Obama any longer where their political instincts sense danger. This opens enormous opportunities for conservatives and Republicans.
One of those opportunities is on the budget, where President Obama also lost control yesterday. The locus of power on federal budget policy now lies in the office of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Budget resolutions are not subject to veto, or even to filibuster. In this new political environment, it is not going to be politically viable for President Obama to veto Republican budget bills because they do not spend enough. If those bills are sufficiently well crafted, such vetoes can be overridden now.
Republicans would commit grievous policy and political errors by compromising with Obama on the budget. They need to do what the voters have now elected them to do, and this is exactly what Ryan plans to do. They need to adopt sharp reductions in spending, following the models of Governor Christie in New Jersey, Governor McDonnell in Virginia, and the new Conservative Party government in Great Britain. The Democrats will not go down with Obama fighting what the people are obviously demanding on spending.
On December 1, President Obama’s Deficit Commission will issue its report. This Commission was not elected by the people to do anything. The new Republican majorities were. Republicans should just pocket all the recommended spending cuts, and thank the Commission for its work, ignoring anything else. I predict Ryan and the Republicans will do just that.
Pundits on the right as well as the left have drawn the wrong conclusions about the similar budget confrontation between President Clinton and Congressional Republicans in 1995. Clinton won the cosmetics, but Gingrich and the Republicans won the substance, enacting sharp spending restraint with pro-growth tax cuts that soon resulted in large budget surpluses. In the current, far stronger, anti-spending, anti-government political environment, President Obama is far weaker than Clinton was.
Republicans just need to be careful not to get stuck promoting spending cuts that will lose the political base that catapulted them into the majority. That can be done with the current plan to return spending to 2008 or 2007 levels except for Social Security and Medicare, along with repealing Obamacare and President Obama’s crony capitalism, green energy, corporate welfare, and other bailout spending.
The other big opportunity for Republicans now even with President Obama and his veto pen is on extending the Bush tax cuts for all. The political momentum from yesterday will likely be sufficient to extend those tax cuts at least for another two years, leaving the 2012 election to decide more fundamental tax reform. Enough Democrats will not want to increase taxes for anybody in this bad economy to force Obama to accede or face the serious prospect of another veto override.