Posted tagged ‘john boehner’

Immigration Fight?

November 18, 2014

President Obama appears to be preparing to face off with GOP congressional leaders over immigration reforms. We have an estimated 11 million undocumented residents and political leaders cannot seem to find common ground upon which to decide what to do with this number.

Some sources reduce this situation to simply denying Democrats new voters were these 11 million to be somehow naturalized. Others speak mightily about the rule of law and these 11 million have broken the law and should be deported. Hmmm.

There is no single story which describes how each of the 11 million got here. In general most came to the US for employment reasons (economic hardship at home). Often a family member was here first and helped the newcomer find employment and housing. Most of the 11 million are Mexican and almost all the 11 million are good workers who perform tasks that American citizens cannot do as well or will not do at the same wage levels as these undocumented will.

Logic does not seem to work in trying to discuss undocumented residents. Who can support free and unfettered entrance to the country including our social support systems? Similarly, who can deny that most of these undocumented perform valuable and necessary work? Who can say that language is an issue, especially for those who come when they are young or have children while here? And it could be  simply fear, Hispanics make up about 16% of America’s population now and there are plenty more of them still in Mexico and nearby Central American countries.

So why again does there need to be a political fight?

The GOP has interpreted the 2014 midterm election results as a clear mandate to govern from their perspective. That means no immigration reform. The fly in the ointment is that the GOP also wants to be seen as capable of governing. The more sensible GOP minds realize that shutting down the government or just grid lock does not inspire the public.

President Obama, however, has said he will use his executive powers to make some reform unless Congress acts. To that promise, GOP leaders have been breathing fire. Why?

Why did not Senate “soon to be leader” McConnell and House Speaker Boehner just say, “hmmm, we will have to see what the President does and then we will decide whether further action is needed?”

The President certainly cannot legislate law. In fact it is the duty of the President to execute laws passed by Congress. Eleven million residents, however, are far too many to find, apprehend, and deport. Hence the President could by order direct his resources to concentrate upon criminals and not divert time and attention towards seeking to find productive undocumented. From the President’s perspective, the GOP could take its time and later make up its mind about immigration reform when it got around to it.

There is, of course, another explanation for the President’s promised action and the GOP’s promised reaction. Each side has calculated that there is little they can agree upon because the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is too far away from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Whatever.

Immigration reform is an important issue. This 11 million undocumented issue needs to be resolved wisely.   What if the 11 million were mostly from Mali, Liberia, or Nigeria? Or what if these 11 million were mostly form North Africa or the Middle East? Mexicans are hard workers with religious and social values very similar to most Americans. If there was one group of immigrants besides Europeans the country should want, it ought to be Mexicans one would think.

I wonder how this “fight” will turn out?

Parallel Universes

February 11, 2014

Yesterday, the GOP House members met and attempted to agree on a path forward which avoids US debt default.  Ahead of the meeting, pundits predicted members were close to an agreement and would decide maybe even that day.  The meeting has come and gone and no agreement has emerged.

The only thing clear today is that the GOP appears more like a child in a candy story (or a sailor in….), they simply cannot decide like other adults.

For some members, increasing the debt limit is a non-starter regardless of the consequences.  Some of these people do not believe there will be serious consequences because they think the US can pay their debts later when it suits us.  After all we are the biggest, most powerful, and wealthiest country in the world.  Hmmm.

Another faction do not want the country to default but see this vote as the only method they have to force a minority view on the majority.  For this group turning the deficit around is key and this vote might allow them to change entitlement formulas (in return for raising the debt ceiling) and accomplish what they feel is important.  Hmmm.

So, not unlike the negotiating box the GOP put themselves in last fall.  Those negotiation lead to the Government shutdown and accomplished nothing.  As then, John Boehner was seen as unable to control his members.  Some members have gone as far to say that if Boehner were to allow an open vote, they would vote to replace him as Speaker.

Entitlements do represent a huge problem.  Entitlements are easy to demagogue, and most politicians are delighted to take credit if it buys them votes.  Unfortunately, the underlying math doesn’t work.  Healthcare costs, and its impact upon Medicare and Medicaid are on course to bankrupt the Country.  If those GOP members opposed to increasing the debt ceiling were true to their positions, they would be active in developing a comprehensive solution… some path with new taxes and entitlement reforms.

How do we think Medicare and Medicaid recipients will react to a reduction in these benefits if Congress so mandated?  Like most complex problems, no one is ever happy to have a benefit reduced.  This is especially true if Americans think the deficit is a shared problem looking for a shared solution.

Americans are in the end people.  Most people are reasonable and inclined to look for what is fair.  When Congress is so divided, and both political sides seem to lack interest in the common good, Americans have, at this time, no example around which to rally.

Should deadlock persist and default come to be, there is no telling what exactly will happen.  Most business leaders, bankers, and economists have warned against treating default lightly.

John Boehner has a rare chance to stand up for what is sensible and in the Country’s best interest.  The question is will he?

Extorting Our Way to Gridlock

December 5, 2013

“Extortion”, a book by Peter Schweizer, purports to describe how politicians get your money.  In an interview yesterday on public radio, Schweizer recounted example after example of Congressional practices which maximized the amount of cash flowing into each Congress members’ coffers.  Some of the uses had tight limits on how the money could be used, while others were loosey goosey, and still others were outrightly shameful.  It was clear from Schweizer’s description why so many Congress members could seem so willing to subvert their legislative responsibilities in favor of personal enrichment.

There are obvious challenges to Schweizer’s claims.  Speaker John Boehner dismissed “Extortion” out of hand and claimed Schweizer should read “Congress for Dummies” if Schweizer wanted to really know how Congress functioned.  Hmmm, that sounds like an endorsement to me.

“Extortion” describes the bizarre  requirements each party places upon it members in order for them to receive an appointment to a “select” committee.  The price, $500,000, in campaign fund raising.  (The half million goes to the Party, not the Congress member.)  No money, no select committee.  Where did competence go?

Laws exist, however, that no special interest can offer or give Congress members money to vote one way or another, and no one can give members any money while the member is on the floor.  There is a loop hole, however.  Any member can give any other member money on the floor at any time.  Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Schweizer painted a clear picture why special interests and Congress members liked this arrangement.  Certain types of PACs, for example. could be used as tax free expense accounts for Congress member’s personal expenses.  Hmmm.  Special interests got what they wanted.  Congress members got wealthy.  Couldn’t be nicer.

In the interview, Schweizer mentioned the lobbying cottage industry that helps facilitate the collection and distribution of money.  He did not dwell upon another beneficiary of this putrid system.  Money collected and used for reelection campaigns or for advocacy is spent some place by someone.  This money buys print space, TV time, and all the consultants and writers who think, design, make, and distribute the “message”.  This is a great deal for the “media”.

Hmmm.  I wonder whether that has anything to do with the sparse coverage the book has gotten so far?

Filling Potholes

September 19, 2013

Elected officials’ first and foremost responsibility is to ensure government provides basic services.  In order to accomplish this, a government must collect taxes and fund a staff of departments which provide, at a minimum, a list of basic services.  At State and local levels we have seen a wide distribution of government leaders.

Many were more interested in enriching themselves.  Given enough time these political characters were either thrown out of office or sent to jail.  Every so often, however, some political leaders filled their pockets to overflow and still  remained in high esteem with voters.  Why?

These political leaders knew that the trash must be picked up and the pot holes must be filled.

Congress is facing a very tough hurdle in the coming weeks.  A minority of Republican Congress members are committed to using the prospect of government paralysis to get there way.   They see either not passing any spending authority or allowing a default on the national debt to occur.  The consequences of both are serious but the debt default situation is both unnecessary and potentially as economically serious than the Banking collapse in 2008.

One would think there must be some important issues that would cause the House majority to head off on this path.  What could it be?

The GOP claims the combined budget and debt crunch as the last and best method they see to stop the Affordable Care Act.  The last time the GOP tried to pull this shit dwon stunt the reason was the size of the deficit and the debt.  The GOP implied we would have worthless currency soon and out children would be saddled with trillions in debt our generation spent but did not pay for.

Since 2010 when the Tea Party came out with guns blazing, the economy has slowly gotten stronger.  In comparison to the rest of the world, the US today has an enviable position.  Hmmm.  Does that mean the deficit and debt are no longer important?

To the contrary, the deficit actually represents a much more serious problem.  Our elected officials have forgotten that there job is to govern.  Consequently, Congress is unable to decide any real fixes to the budget.

Our Congress members will agree to cuts… as long as they do not effect their districts or their special interest supporters.  This leads to life being much the same as it has been.

GOP claims that the Affordable Care Act is a poster child for what’s wrong with government is very difficult to understand.  It is law and it has been law since 2009.  More to the point, the 2012 Presidential election featured two candidates.  One said his first act as President would be to repeal ACA.  The other, President Obama, said he would see ACA became a necessary improvement to US health care delivery system.  President Obama won handily.  So why the October show down?

It appears that a significant number of Republicans are not interested in “filling pot holes”.  For sure they do not like certain feature of ACA, like taxes and regulations on small businesses.  Yet the GOP has proposed no alternatives on raising the needed revenue.

One is left unmistakably with the impression that US healthcare is the best in the world already, so why do anything?  To bad reality say otherwise.

There has been more than enough time for Republicans to offer alternative to provisions to fix ACA, and just as much time to offer balanced deficit reduction (cuts and new taxes).  That’s the process of governing.  Hmmm.

So, the message is watch out for the holes in the road.  Plan on them being there a long time.

2014 Mid-terms High Risk Poker

September 11, 2013

It doesn’t look at this point like President Obama’s coattails will provide many Congress members seeking election any guaranteed help.  His strongest supporters have never wavered but they are a minority anyways.  The great middle that elected him in 2008 and again in 2012 do not feel the pull to get out and vote Democrat.  It is less they indorse the GOP but given the President as the head Democrat, they feel little motivation.

That is not good news for anyone.  The GOP sees sunlight in the Senate races and can envision picking up enough Senate seats to gain control.  At this point, the House is almost certainly going to remain GOP controlled.  And given the GOP performance since 2010, that’s not good news for the nation.

Smart money would argue that the GOP should act statesmen-like now, and in November 2014, humbly ask for America’s vote so they can govern.  That strategy would bring the GOP into power across the Congressional board.

Instead, the GOP has selected a different strategy.  They are betting the mortgage upon the American electorate believing the Affordable Care Act is both poor legislation and will lessen the overall quality of American healthcare.  Consequently the House has voted 40 times to repeal or defund Obamacare.  Hmmm.

The most pressing question now is, what to do about the looming fights over the budget and any increase in the national debt.

Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor has just announced that the House will kick the budget can down the street (for a couple of months) until mid December.  But extending the limits on the debt, that is another story.  Cantor said the GOP would be willing to raise the debt limit providing the President delays implementing the Affordable Care Act.  Two totally unrelated issues.   Hmmm.

This is a deal the President can (and should) refuse.  President Obama has already said he will not negotiate over increasing the debt limits but his track record on liking to negotiate at the last minutes gives reason to pause.  But refuse he must.

Default and an ensuing Government shutdown will follow.

There is mounting evidence that already the Affordable Care Act is not the disaster Republicans have claimed.  Costs have not gone through the roof (they have not come down either).  And despite Republican State Governors efforts to block key Obamacare provisions, it seems like most Americans will experience more than satisfactory healthcare (especially those currently without).  These Americans will ask, “what were those Republicans talking about?”

So the high rollers are getting ready to bet the mortgage and risk shutting down the government when the debt limit is reached.  If the President has any sense, he will ensure that GOP States will suffer the first loss of services and Republican friendly industries like Defense and Energy are hit too.  As the postal service slows and national parks close, and, and, and, Americans will conclude the GOP is not fit to govern.

The President ought ask one question…  Mr Boehner, Mr Canter, what are your proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act and how will you fund it?

If the GOP wants to govern, then the responsible way is to adjust the budget (and accept the consequences).  For many reason, the GOP has refused to follow that course previously.  At this late hour, it does not look like they will this time.

 

GOP’s Death in Slow Motion

August 31, 2013

The waning days of August are usually quiet and bring a mixed bag of emotions.  There is sadness that summer is ending, and an offsetting excitement that fall is about to begin.  The Washington political stage will bounce back to life.   But unless matters change considerably, we may be looking at the dissolution of a political party.

Being a member of Congress is not as easy a job as it might sound.  Like the Mayor of any city, there are pot holes to fill.  Hmmm.  For Congress, the Middle East is a mess with one week Egypt grabbing the headlines and the next week Syria is in first place.  Turkey, Libya, Lebanon,  and Iran have jockeyed amongst each other for share of mind.  So much for Congress members to worry about.

Domestically immigration reform, voting rights, the sequester, the Federal Budget, and the necessary increase of the federal debt limit are all vying for the attention of Congress.  This is quite a list and are not trivial in nature.  It will take the best from each Party to find the best solution.  Tough situations often bring the best from those confronted.  What about this time?

Hmmm.

Congress, however, has been spectacularly impotent with respect to governing and the current situation seems not to be different.  The Republican “just say no” approach has ground the wheels of government to a halt.   This Republican behavior is said to be the result of several minority constituencies (Tea Party, ultra conservatives, and evangelicals) all pushing their own agenda and not the least bit interested in compromising for the purpose of governing.  In other words, these GOP members do not care to fill the pot holes.

This week, John Boehner said there would be a “whale of a battle” over any increase in the Federal Debt limit.  Boehner said this was a valuable chance “to leverage” GOP positions on other issues (namely Obamacare).  If this resulted in Government default, so be it.

What did he just say?

The debt is about money already authorized by Congress and spent by the Government.  It is not about next year’s budget or any existing laws.  And most of all, the debt is just like our personal debt.  Default carries consequences much broader than not paying owed money.

The GOP seems locked into a misguided death watch over the Affordable Care Act.  Clearly there is a valid concern over whether American healthcare will improve under the ACA.  For every GOP proposal to hinder the ACA, there ought be a corresponding counter proposal.  Hmmm. Not there.

The debt increase issue seems of much less a concern about the fiscal health of the Country than the possibility that Obamacare may begin to function.  What is the GOP so concerned about?

Is their concern that the individual mandate, or the tax on Medical Equipment companies, or the requirement for businesses to provide health insurance coverage for their employees are too onerous?  If so, what is the GOP’s ideas about providing the benefits of ACA but with different requirements?

Or, does the GOP simply reject the idea that health care should be available for all residents?  (It would appear that some within the GOP do)  Does the GOP subscribe to the notion that an American can have as good health care as they can afford?  If so, why do they not say so?

It is becoming increasingly likely that the GOP brand is broken.  It appears that the amalgam of Libertarians, ultra right wingers, evangelicals, along with the rump fiscally conservative Republican faction is in fact today’s GOP.  This is not a party but a combination of three or four distinctly different cohorts.

Saying no to immigration reform, saying no to gun controls, saying no health care reform, saying no to sensible, and balanced budget reforms is a prescription for stagnation or retrogression.  This is an unstable situation for any party that harbors so many internally inconsistent goals.   Unless one likes pot holes, it is hard to see a future with his collection of desperate political views.

The big question is whether the GOP will simply, like the Soviet Union, one day just stop being, or whether under the pressure of the real world in which we live, the GOP will crack and split into so many pieces so fractured they can not be reassembled?

Hmmm.

Stranger yet, the possibility of dissolution does not seem to be an apparent concern as judged by the GOP spokespersons who pass as the Party’s leaders.  I see the GOP ultimately splitting into pieces.   I also see the possibly the more moderate parts of the Democrat Party might combine with this rump Republican faction an form a new majority.  Hopefully it will be a majority that knows it must fill pot holes.

Of course this might just be a last minute summer dream.

 

A Vision Of Things To Come?

December 21, 2012

Last evening, Americans probably saw the end of John Boehner’s Speakership.  Speaker Boehner was unwilling to bring his own tax/spending cut bill to the House floor because he knew it would not pass.  This probably marks the end of any efforts by Boehner.  His only path forward, if he wishes to display any intellectual honesty, would be to bring a Senate tax/spending cut bill to the floor with the expectation that a House bi-partisan majority approve it.  This would be a service to the Country but not something he could get reelected Speaker on.

So, how did we get to this spot?  Hmmm.   Ask yourself if you know what the “Republican” brand stands for?

I can tell you a few things it does not stand for.  Republican Congress members represent enormously disparate groups.  From bible thumpers to out in the woods survivalists, to extreme libertarians, to right of center business people make up the GOP.  In the last election, Republicans were against latinos (immigration), gays and lesbians (same sex marriage and DOMA), science (intelligent design, global warming), women (reproductive health, Planned Parenthood), and common sense (big bird).  Each of these declarations elicited cheers from narrow groups of supporters.  The problem Republicans encountered was that the tide of public opinion and the evidence all around did not agree with their positions.  The election went to President Obama.

Quiet in the background is the Democratic Party.  They appear much more focused and united than Republicans.  I suspect the truth is that the only thing Democrats are united upon is they are not Republicans and unite to oppose these extreme Republican views.

A trillion dollar debt and no fiscal plan to stop its increase is something all Americans should find appalling.  Yet Democrats seem content with increasing taxes on the wealthy and taking mouse bites out of some spending programs.

Should the GOP collapse and the Democrats are somehow in charge, do you think they will tackle the projected trillion dollar debt in any meaningful way?

In the simplest of terms, fixing the debt and deficit problems requires collecting more in taxes and spending less in government expenditures.  Too high an increase in taxes or to deep a cut in spending all bring their own problems.  Probably some “big ideas” are necessary to get us out of the box we seem to be in.  In any case, remedies do not need to be all at once.  They could be a little now, a little more next year, and so on.

Think about it.  The fiscal cliff negotiations only yield a dent in deficit reduction.  There is no talk of what needs to come next.  Why should a fiscal conservative not worry?  Why should someone who feels strongly about healthcare not worry about the future of Medicare and Medicaid?

So today we are witnessing the implosion of the Republican Party.  They cannot agree among themselves on a course of action and cannot accept the majority vote of Americans in the last election.  They are finished without some eureka moment very soon.  I submit that Democrats will following close behind.  Democrats’ most progressive ideas are policies without funding.  Moderates will revolt next.

The American “two party” system has done the country well.  The system worked because each party represented a view and fought for their view.  When the vote was taken or the national election occurred, the majority got its way.  The two party system is now at a cross roads because one party is in collapse.

There is still time but it is getting short.  I think I can see where this is going if the GOP does not get its act together.

 

Is This About Boehner Being Speaker?

December 20, 2012

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is John Boehner.  On January 3, 2013, he might be reelected by his Republican majority, or he might not.  If not, Boehner will be just Representative Boehner, a smoker, a golf enthusiast, and a fan of tanning salons.

The alleged positions of President Obama and Speaker Boehner are so close even a first grader could find the middle and reach a compromise.  For some reason, these two can not.

Obama and Boehner are two men who also know the consequences, at least short term, of reaching no agreement by year end.  The general public will be mad and the stock markets will be furious.  Beyond the fiscal cliff issue, failure will signal two more years of total gridlock in Congress.  Public opinion on the value of government (not its services) will be in the toilet.

Here’s one take.

Suppose Speaker Boehner and the President announce an agreement.  Let’s say it is taxes up for those earning $500,000 or more, increase in dividends and capital gains taxes, and changes to Medicare and Social Security plus some other miscellaneous cuts.  The deal is about $2 trillion over 10 years.

The House votes on these measures and Speaker Boehner cannot deliver enough Republican votes for the measure to pass.  Come January 3rd, it will likely be Speaker Cantor.

From Boehner’s eyes, ending his Speakership for $2 trillion (roughly $200 billion a year) when we are sporting $1 trillion a year deficits might not seem a good bet.  Narrowly viewed, he is probably correct.  Viewed more broadly, the fiscal cliff is a surrogate for Americans believing their government can be effective.  Even a small step is important.

The 7/24 talking heads have told us repeatedly that we are watching Kabuki theater.  The ending is already known and what we are watching is the dancing that leads up to it.  I am beginning to think that is not the case.

Agreement by year end is a goal which can cement John Boehner’s legacy.  If he agrees to a compromise and gets it passed in the House, Boehner will clearly be seen as an effective leader.  If the compromise fails in the House, Boehner will be seen as a courageous leader who deserved better.

 

 

 

Duh, Why Didn’t I Think Of That

December 13, 2012

The US is spending about a half trillion dollars on senior citizens and the poor.  The government spend this money in order to provide basic health care benefits.  When one says “spend”, this means that over and above the amount the government collects in wage taxes intended to cover these costs, they spend an addition amount to the tune of about one half trillion… each year.  That’s a lot of spending.

The 7/24 media operation is just gobbling up the frenzy surround the “fiscal cliff”.   And what a sight they have to report.

The President and House leader John Boehner can not agree on even partial steps to avoid the cliff.  One side accuses the other of refusing to raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans and the other side tries to tar the other for not being willing to cut Medicare and Medicaid.  The 7/24 media just sits there and collects advertising revenues as it hashes and rehashes the days fiscal cliff developments.  No one seems genuinely interested.

This is not a trivial problem.  The US is overspending its revenue by about $1 trillion.  This is not new.  Almost all of the overspending is due to long standing laws.  Rising health care costs and more people being added to the Medicare and Medicaid roles are drivers.  But so is the lost revenue from the Bush tax cuts and the unfunded Medicare Part D benefit.

So why should anyone be surprised that taxes must increase and the portion government spends on Medicare and Medicaid must shrink?

No one should be.  Never the less, questions remain on what taxes should increase and how would government spending on Medicare and Medicaid be reduced.

For Medicare, it is tempting to say we should increase the age when Medicare benefits kick in.  The big problem is that Americans still need coverage and would be faced with buying it on the open market.  For someone 65, open market health insurance will cost many times what one pays for Medicare.  For some it will mean no coverage or very limited coverage.  Is this fair?

Means testing has also been suggested for Medicare.  This means that if your income is a certain level, your yearly Medicare premiums would be higher.  This is probably inevitable but it won’t solve the spending problem alone.

Increasing Medicare/Medicaid wage withholding taxes seems also logical.  This is regressive and with the economy still weak, many wonder whether this is wise.  It seems to me, however, raising this tax a little is a no brainer.  Still the amount that it could be raised will not eliminate the government spending.

So what are we overlooking?

Hmmm.  The Bush tax cuts won’t solve the deficit.  Cutting Medicare and Medicaid without some offsetting new source of funds will be unfair to a large number of Americans.  And raising wage roll taxes, while necessary, will not close the gap either.  Health care costs are simply too large and are rising too fast.

Hmmm.

I wonder why we don’t begin with a down payment.  Increase some taxes, use means testing, and rededicate efforts to eliminate fraud and corruption.  Enough to live today and die tomorrow.   And, then?

Then, there should be a national team assembled (no elected officials as members) which would study and make recommendations on how to fix America’s health care system.  The goal is simple, why does America’s per capita health care cost 2x other modern countries, and how do we reduce America’s costs while maintaing (or improving) health care outcomes.

Duh, why didn’t I think of that?

 

 

Mandate Or Obstruction?

November 7, 2012

Yesterday America voted.  President Obama won reelection winning both the popular and electoral votes.  The election margin was narrow even though the electoral margin was convincing.  Does this represent a mandate for President Obama or will he face a largely unchanged House as obstructionists?

In 2004 when President George W Bush won reelection in a squeaker, he said with great bravado, “my victory has given me a lot of political capital and I’m going to use it” (or words to that effect).  Bush proceeded to try and privatize social security.  There had been no mandate and Bush’s efforts went down in flames.

In 2012, the country is facing a serious deficit quandary.  Tax revenues are insufficient to cover expenditures to the tune of $1 trillion.  This can be called nothing other than irresponsible government.

The problem is how to balance the budget.  How does the country reduce spending (like which programs) or increase tax revenues (who pays more)?  And once there is some agreement on how to reduce the deficit, at what speed is it sensible to accomplish (6 months, 6 years, for example).

All of this is set in the context of unemployment (jobs), growing the economy, launching Affordable Care Act, and social issues such as immigration and homosexual rights.  It is reasonable to conclude that voters, by a slight majority, preferred President Obama’s position on these issues.  Is that a mandate?

Voters seemed not to accept Mitt Romney’s “chicken in every pot” approach.  He offered jobs, tax reductions,  and the end of ACA, and those promises did not sell.  Were Republican Congressional leaders listening?

Both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell’s first statements following the election seemed combative and disconnected with the election results.  Does that mean the GOP will continue as obstructionists?

The President holds far more power than just having won reelection.  Timing is everything.  If he does nothing, the Bush tax cuts will expire by law.  If Congress can not offer acceptable budget cuts, the sequestration laws will put in place mandatory cuts.  Congress will be blamed for having raised taxes on the middle class and having allowed defense spending to be cut.  This should present a strong motivator to cut a deal behind closed doors.  But will it happen?

This election demonstrated that an awful lot of Americans consider themselves Republicans.  Regardless, the GOP needs to realize that this number represents a national second place party.  The GOP is out of touch with the center.

The mandate really applies to GOP leadership and over their obstructionist ultra right faction, they must seize control and steer a new, more centrist course.

Will that happen?  Stay tuned.