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Election 2012 ends, political gridlock begins?

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Correspondent- | Last updated: Nov 7, 2012 - 4:15:01 PM

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President Barack Obama delivers Victory Speech Photo Wall St. Journal
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - After the thrill of the Nov. 6 federal election victories subside, after the agony of defeat has eased, after the laureates have been named and the scapegoats have been blamed, the old administration and the old Congress must come together in a “lame duck” governing session beginning Nov. 13 to resolve some vitally important issues. Then both major parties must strategize how to move the nation forward facing at least two more years of possible gridlock.

The reelection victory for President Barack Obama could be interpreted by the White House and his Democratic allies as a mandate to pursue economic recovery and debt reduction his way, first insisting on raising taxes on families making more than $250,000. The president would likely push to steer money toward energy development, education and worker training, manufacturing support and rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure.

“(President) Obama will have a lot of leverage,” Dr. David Bositis, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies told The Final Call, before the president won reelection Nov. 6. “He basically will be in the driver’s seat and get—I won’t say he gets what he wants—but he’ll get most of what he wants.”

The prospect of pending spending cuts and tax increases—called the “sequester” and set to take effect January 1, because they were already agreed to by this Tea Party-dominated Congress—will influence whether or not Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach a much farther-reaching debt-reduction deal later under the president’s leadership. Mr. Obama wants to get a deal in the first six months of 2013.

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The Obama family on 2012 Election Night AP photo

Beginning his second term without a deep and painful recession and wars in two countries, the president would be freer to pursue some aspects of the “change agenda” he promised in 2008. Mr. Obama would also likely try to resolve one of the big unmet promises of his first term, immigration reform. He would be freer to work on fixing the complex and politically explosive problem of blazing a trail to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Republican loser and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had warned that an Obama victory would spell doom for the nation’s economy. Elect me or GOP House will wreck the economy, Mr. Romney promised. In what his campaign billed as his “closing argument,” Mr. Romney warned that a second term for President Obama would have apocalyptic consequences for the economy in part because his own Republican Party would force a debt ceiling disaster.

“Unless we change course, we may well be looking at another recession,” Gov. Romney told a campaign rally in Wisconsin, repeating the same argument in Sanford, Fla., just hours before Election Day.

The Republican said President Obama “promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan” and that his bitter relations with the GOP could threaten the economy. Gov. Romney pointed to a crisis created entirely by Republican lawmakers—such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge that: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term president”—and the ongoing threat to reject a debt ceiling increase made by House GOP Tea Party extremists. Economists have long warned that a failure to pass a debt ceiling increase would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for the recovery.

Unlike the scenario for a second Obama administration, the GOP agenda is likely dead-on arrival on Capitol Hill, if Gov. Romney wins.

Republicans spent 2011 and 2012 building support for a Tea Party-driven policy platform in the form of vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget. That platform called for a radical restructuring of Medicare, deep cuts to nearly all of the government’s domestic functions in order to finance much lower taxes on wealthy Americans.

Democrat retained their Senate majority, badly damaging the GOP’s dream of making their hoped-for policy changes. According to Nov. 7 reports, in the House the breakdown was 231 Republicans and 190 Democrats with several races still undecided. In the Senate, Democrats controlled 51 seats versus 45 seats for Republicans, with results from several races still outstanding. President Obama defeated Mitt Romney with 303 electoral votes versus 206 for his rival.

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Mr. Bositis predicted “come December 31, Obama gets all the tax increases and 50 percent of the spending cuts are going to be defense,” if Republicans don’t make a deal with the president.

“So, the Republicans are going to be like, totally on the floor. So, they’re going to go with all the increases in the income tax and the capital gains tax, and what they call the ‘death tax,’ and then on top of it the spending cuts in terms of the ‘fiscal cliff’ half of it is defense cuts?

“They’re totally, completely on … Obama’s going to be totally in control. If they (GOP) want to hang on, this will all happen Jan. 1, and then, everything will be new Jan. 1. The fact of the matter is that Obama is going to be in control. If Obama wins, he’s going to be in control. He’s gonna have the upper hand and the Republicans are going to compromise because Obama’s gonna be in charge.

“Not only that, they know that Obama’s gonna be in charge for four years. And remember something, come 2016, the minority population is gonna be 2 percentage points more than what it is in 2012 and the Republicans are gonna be like—hmmm, let’s get rid of these guys,” Dr. Bositis predicted about future GOP embrace of reactionary Tea Party leadership.

An Obama victory means the president will be able to deliver on some of his campaign promises.

“What he wants from Republicans is: he wants spending on infrastructure. He wants tax cuts for poor people, then he’ll be happy. Otherwise, the Republicans just get tax raises for everybody. Instead of a little tax raises, they get a lot of tax raises.

“Remember something,” Dr. Bositis said in conclusion. “Obama wins; he ain’t gonna run for reelection. That’s it. He doesn’t have any … he is there. He can do whatever he wants. These other guys have to worry about two years later they have to run for reelection, four years later they have to run for reelection.

“Barack Obama, he wins, that’s it. No more elections.”

The resulting four-year “lameduck” incumbency will mean additional power and political leverage for the president in his second term, according to Dr. Bositis.

(This is an updated version of an article that appeared on page 4 in the print edition of The Final Call V. 32 No. 6.)

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