So did anything change on Tuesday? Very likely not. The ability of Congressional Republicans to enact legislation is not much changed from last Monday. Before Tuesday they held the House. Now they hold the House and the Senate. But it takes three branches of government to enact a law, and there isn’t much difference between holding one and holding two branches, if you don’t have the third.
To which I’d add two caveats. First, there’s an important psychological difference. The House Republicans caved on the debt ceiling last January because they didn’t think they had the voters at their back. They had held out in 2011, and then got shellacked in 2012. Perhaps they’ll feel differently now. That’s important because their ultimate power is that of the purse, and that requires staring down Obama, as they did in the debt negotiations of 2011.
That implies a long-ball strategy, where the Republicans try to enact the sort of things on George Will’s wish list. Otherwise they’re just whistling in the wind.
There’s a short-ball strategy, however, which might be of more interest, and that is to try to assemble a veto-proof majority of two-thirds of the Senate, with the aid of cross-over Senate Democrats. That might seem highly unlikely, since many of the ostensibly more moderate Senate Dems went down to defeat on Tuesday (not that they ever were much found to stray from Obama’s agenda). But then a smart Republican leadership would now be looking to divide the Democrats by reaching out to Harry Reid.
(I have little patience, by the way, for conservatives who revile Reid. That’s simply blind partisanship, for had Reid been a Republican they’d have loved him.)
So can Reid be brought along for the ride? Just maybe, on a number of issues. Obama was happy to throw the Congressional Democratic Party under the bus, and Reid knows it. I won’t speculate on what issues they might compromise on, but it’s easy enough to come up with a few of them, which might save some Democratic Congressional seats in 2016.
Perhaps we might want to ask, then, whether Congressional Republicans would want to save those Democratic seats. I suspect the answer is yes, because Republicans also would bear a political price if the gridlock continues. In any event, expect Reid to reach out to compromise.
Notice that I said that the only majority that matters is 67 Senators, two-thirds of the chamber. Not 60. The filibuster is dead, and good riddance to it. The only people who think it survives are the idiots who don’t realize that Harry Reid trashed it for both judicial appointments and other matters too.
There is one other player in all of this: Hillary Clinton, the Queen-in-waiting. She and Obama despise each other. (Remember “You’re likable enough, Hillary”?) And she realizes that, while she needs Obama supporters for the nomination, she’ll also need Obama-haters for the election. It’ll be fascinating to see how she plays it.
Of course she’d be every bit as dreadful as Obama. Even worse. She’d be just as ideological, but she’s also the reincarnation of Lady Macbeth, ruthless, insincere, and vengeful.
Mind you, the prospect of seeing Bill Clinton dragged away in chains would be amusing.