Will gridlock dominate U.S. politics after mid-term elections?

12:56, November 01, 2010      

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With Republicans predicted to pick up substantial amount of Democratic seats in the Nov. 2 U.S. mid-term elections, both parties are planning for the post election landscape. But experts warn that gridlock may dominate Washington in the coming year.

"One thing we can be sure is Republicans will pick up a lot of seats in the House, in the Senate and the governorship, and the state legislature. It is almost certain," said Thomas Mann, a political expert of the Brookings Institution, to Xinhua in a recent interview.

As a result of this changing dynamics on Capitol Hill, the U.S. political climate in the coming year may become much more precarious.

"With or without enough (gains by Republicans to) change to majority, it means that President Obama, who had quite successful record to overcome difficulties in the face of filibuster in the Senate, is going to face a much more difficult Congress to work with," noted Mann.

Republicans have already made it crystal clear. In the Pledge to America, a list of proposed legislative items the Republican Party promised to pursue should they gain majority in the House, the party vowed to put a hold on all unspent funds authorized as part of the 2009 stimulus bill or the 2008 financial sector rescue legislation, repeal the 2010 health-care reform bill, and other signature Democratic policy agenda.

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority leader, told the National Journal in a recent interview.

Democrats have no illusion as what the post-election landscape would be. David Axelrod, a senior Obama aide, told the MSNBC that after the election, in Congress, "there will be more Republicans. We are ready to work together. The question is, are they ready to work with us?"

Obama "will have even harder time at advancing his agenda and issues he would be able to find success in the first two years, such as immigration, climate change" after the election, said Mann.

But even if Republicans take over majority in the House, should they abandon their strategy of absolute opposition, the next two years could also mean something different.

McDonnell, in his interview with the National Journal, cautioned against the danger of "just say no." He reminded Republicans of their sweeping mid-term elections victory in 1994, which didn't translate into a one-term presidency for Bill Clinton.

"After 1994, the public had the impression we Republicans overpromised and underdelivered. We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him," he said, noting that is a mistake the party won't want to make again, and "if President Obama does a Clintonian backflip, if he's willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it's not inappropriate for us to do business with him."

In his last radio address before the election, Obama called for Republicans to put aside partisan politics and focus on the economy.

"Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, we need to come together to help put people who are still looking for jobs back to work. And there are some practical steps we can take right away to promote growth and encourage businesses to hire and expand. These are steps we all should be able to agree on -- not Democratic or Republican ideas, but proposals that have traditionally been supported by both parties."

He said on issues such as tax relief for middle class families, education, infrastructure and innovation, "it's the fundamental responsibility of all who hold elective office to seek out common ground."

The first issue the two parties are likely to argue about after the election is the Bush era tax cut. Republicans want to extend all of them, but Democrats are not willing to continue cutting taxes for the very rich, and that may very well put the Capitol Hill to a standstill.

Furthermore, the House operates with different rules with the Senate, and it is a more partisan chamber. Even if McConnell is willing to "meet Obama halfway," the House Republicans may not.

"This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles," Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner said in an interview with a conservative radio host recently, noting any deal would be on Republican terms.

"This Republican Party is more conservative, more extreme and more united, and it is absolute opposition to the president. Their Tea Party supporters are going to be demanding no deal with Democrats. That could mean a period of gridlock and irresolution on major problems confronting the country," said Mann.

Source: Xinhua


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