What's In Store

What's In Store

by digby

I and others have been writing for some time that the Catfood Commission doesn't expect to get enough votes either on the commission or in the congress to pass anything, but rather was convened to create a new baseline for "bipartisan" negotiation. Here we have it in the mainstream press:

[P]eople in both parties say they have been surprised that the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform reached an early consensus to put all three major budget parts on the table: taxes, annual spending for domestic and military programs, and the entitlement benefit programs Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Still, given Republicans’ opposition to tax increases and Democrats’ to changes in benefits, expectations are low that any plan can get the 14-vote supermajority required to send it to Congress for a vote in December. Advocates’ best hope seems to be that the co-chairmen — Erskine B. Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system and a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and Alan K. Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader from Wyoming — can negotiate a package that attracts a sizable minority of the 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans and provides a framework for future bipartisan action.

When you put that together with this, you've got a little insight into what's likely to happen in the next congress:

President Obama plans to talk about the results of Tuesday’s elections at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in the East Room of the White House, his staff announced.

Aides said they expected Mr. Obama to call for an end to the division that characterized the campaign and for a renewed focus on bipartisanship to solve the nation’s economic and other problems.

The White House is bracing for a bad night, anticipating an outcome that has virtually every political specialist predicting that the Democrats will lose the House but possibly hang on to the Senate. The White House wants to use the news conference the next day to help Mr. Obama reframe his presidency and signal that he heard what the voters were trying to tell him.

But keep in mind, that was likely to happen regardless of whether the Democrats suffer a big loss today. There was nearly zero chance that the administration would not take a turn right going into the presidential cycle. It's what conventional Democratic wisdom requires. Of course, conventional Democratic wisdom also requires that you nail down your base in the first two years, so perhaps this whole thesis is inoperative. But I doubt it. I think they misjudged the fact that their base is suffering from the bad economy too --- and overestimated the lasting personal affection for the president from the campaign. (This is a fast moving culture and as Heidi Klum says "one day youah IN and the next youah OUT!)

Now they have to walk a tightrope trying to keep the base on board while they make their starboard turn and hope to God the economy doesn't tank again under the austerity measures they seem to think are big political winners. (And also hope that the teabaggers dominate the GOP primary in 2006 and nominate the Palin/Paladino ticket.)

2011 and 2012 were always going to be a hard two years for liberals. I think the big surprise was that the last two were as hard as they were. It has opened the door to all kinds of unpleasant possibilities going forward that might have been avoided with a different strategy.

However it must be emphasized that even the worst case scenarios show the Democrats controlling the the Senate and the executive branch with the Republicans holding a slim majority in the House. If it happens, it's hardly the earthquake the gasbags are breathlessly telling us it is.

Update: Oy vey --- and then there's this: