What does yesterday’s election mean? SNAFU – situation normal all fucked up.
Let’s look at the federal results: (1) incumbent President re-elected, (2) no net change to party strength in the Senate, and (3) Republican majority retained in the House. The American electorate has chosen the status quo of divided government, which means what?
#1 No Tax Increases
As tax measures originate in the House, the re-election of a Republican House majority that has refused to raise tax rates means that the American people have rejected President Obama’s campaign to increase taxes. If the electorate favored higher taxes, it could have simply supported Pelosi for another go at the Speakership, which it did not do.
Reportedly, presumed Speaker Boehner has said that he would be willing to negotiate increased tax revenue, but only if those higher revenues were the consequence of economic growth through the reduction of tax rates, closing coercive tax deductions, and simplifying the tax code.
There are a number of temporary tax reductions that are soon set for expiration such as the “Bush” tax cuts, and the reduction in destructive Social Security payroll taxes. There is a danger that the President will misread the election results and veto congressional action to extend these temporary tax cuts; as these will be de facto increases in taxes upon the middle class, President Obama will start breaking recent campaign promises early.
#2 Investigations of Obama Administration corruption, but no impeachment
Second terms are notoriously harmful to the reputation and legacy of our Presidents as past malfeasance in office is pushed beyond the election and comes back to harm Presidents who evaded the consequences of bad actions within their Administration. By electing a House from the party in opposition to the President, the American electorate is inviting aggressive oversight and investigation into executive branch abuses of power; however, a Senate controlled by the President’s party is a direction from the electorate to not pursue impeachment.
#3 Electorate trusts neither the Democrats nor the Republicans
In opting for divided government, the American electorate has sent a clear message that neither party is trusted with power. Unified government under George W. Bush and Barack Obama was attempting and ended by the American electorate to punish the party for failing to attend to the country’s urgent priorities. Given the fiscal crisis, which Congress has created over decades, we will be dependent upon these parties coming to a mutual agreement to reduce federal spending and eliminate the punitive aspects of our tax code, which cripples American productivity.
#4 Electorate chooses experience over undifferentiated change
As a candidate, Romney failed to differentiate himself in a positive way from President Obama on the urgent priorities that confront our government. Given a choice between experience in President Obama and change for change sake in Romney, the American electorate opted for experience. Instead of a disruptive transition in the executive branch, President Obama and essentially the same Congress have been tasked to immediately get back to the job that they failed to do before the election. No reset, no new faces to rehash what has already been done, just a firm command to get off their asses and do their jobs related to the fiscal cliff that they had pushed to after the election.
Overall, the election was a rejection of President Obama’s principle campaign promise (higher taxes) and of the Republicans for failing to provide a reasonable alternative to the dangerous Democrats. While I disagreed about particulars, the American electorate actually made a coherent and responsible statement about American politics and government on Election Day.