The Status Quo in Washington
Nov 09, 2012
Pro Farmer Extra
- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter
Nov. 9, 2012
The election is done! Pro Farmer Washington consultant Jim Wiesemeyer and Associate Editor Meghan Pedersen this week wrapped up the election and took the first look at what's coming up in the final weeks of the year. This report was the feature page in this week's Pro Farmer's newsletter, but it's value is timely and you need to see it now.
By Jim Wiesemeyer and Meghan Pedersen
After months of campaigning with billions of dollars spent, Americans elected the status quo: Republicans kept their majority (although reduced) in the House, Democrats slightly increased their majority in the Senate and incumbent Obama defeated GOP challenger Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.
How Obama won...
Democrats turned out a heavily Democratic electorate. Obama won huge majorities with Latino, African- American and women voters. He lost among white males by a wide margin, as expected.
These demographics helped him take most swing states. In the key state of Ohio, Obama performed better than usual among white males without a college education, signaling the president’s decision to bail out the U.S. auto industry gave him a boost.
Obama won by 24 points among voters aged 18 to 29 who make up 19% of the electorate. Superstorm Sandy and praise by New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie likely also gave Obama a bipartisan boost.
The past two election results signal the public is shifting toward fewer married, more secular and more ethnically diverse voters.
With this in mind, many say the past two presidential election results show the Republican party must change if it hopes to win national and state-wide elections ahead. As one GOP analyst pointed out, Obama is the “first president in history to be reelected with 43 months of unemployment over 8%.”
Implications of an Obama second term
Shortly after his reelection, Obama said he plans to sit down with Romney in the weeks ahead to talk about how the two can work together. We are hopeful this is a sign Obama will be more willing to develop bipartisan solutions during his second term.
This will be very necessary as Congress and the administration shift their focus to addressing the U.S. fiscal cliff mess and reforming entitlements (particularly Medicare), the tax code and immigration.
The election results mean health care and Dodd-Frank financial reforms will continue. (Romney had pledged to repeal “Obamacare” and significantly alter Dodd-Frank.)
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, climate change and how Obama confronts the topic will likely be a sensitive issue. There is also concern as to whether Obama will push through or implement Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations he had backed off on ahead of the election. A quick dispute would surface with GOP House members if the administration returns to its previous aggressive regulatory approach.
Regarding foreign policy, Iran’s nuclear program remains a key challenge. Some also wonder if Obama will be more accommodative to Russia and Iran.
Key nominations likely ahead for president
During his second term, Obama will likely nominate between one and three U.S. Supreme Court justices. This could set the Court’s “tone” for a long time. Obama will likely also be tasked with recommending a replacement for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires in January 2014; he has privately signaled he doesn’t want another term as chair.
Change of attitude needed for an unchanged Congress
The elections brought very little change to the balance of power in Congress. The GOP maintained its majority in the House and lost two seats in the Senate, where Democrats now have a 55-45 seat majority.
Already, concerns exist that lawmakers will again refuse to cross political aisles to accomplish things —namely addressing the fiscal cliff. Thus Americans are hopeful House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) comments after the election that the GOP may be willing to compromise to reach a major deficit agreement, possibly one similar to the agreement he and Obama nearly struck last year to reduce the deficit by up to $4 trillion over 10 years, prove to be more than just words.
Boehner called for a “down payment” on deficit reduction during the lame-duck session and said the GOP would accept “new revenue,” but not higher tax rates, in a broader agreement next year that would include a comprehensive overhaul of the tax system and address growth in entitlements.
He dismissed the possibility of a grand bargain on the deficit before year-end, which was a break from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) assertion hours earlier that he didn’t want to “kick the can” into 2013.
In prepared remarks, Boehner called for Obama to lead and told the president “we want you to succeed.” Boehner also urged lawmakers to “challenge ourselves to find the common ground that has eluded us.”
Farm bill could still be completed in lame-duck session
The lame-duck session of Congress will determine if a new farm bill comes this year or is punted until the new Congress in 2013. Reid has signaled an ambitious, six-week Senate timetable for the post-election session set to start Nov. 13.
Reid’s aim is to keep pressure on lawmakers to reach a bipartisan debt deal by Dec. 21, the expected adjournment date of this Congress. That should leave plenty of time to reach a final farm bill conclusion and at least scratch this from the “must-do” list for 2013. Some type of extension of the 2008 Farm Bill is likely, regardless of the new farm bill timeline.
Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory
To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit www.profarmer.com.