With Democratic control of the Senate confirmed, one wonders what the next two years will bring on the domestic scene.
Its easy to say what will not happen: There will not be any form of tax relief or reform, or reform of entitlement programs. And no, I do not see expansion of such programs as reform. In short, it is hard to imagine anything happening that will advance the cause of limited government.
On the tax front, the only question will be whether the President will have the stones to veto a tax increase bill. Certainly the Senate, and in all probability the House, will be more than willing to send him one. Given this President’s indifference to the virtues of small government and his status as a lame duck with no re-election chances to blow, I think the odds are that he will sign it.
On spending, expect more of the same. The Dems’ main complaints about Republican spending have been that (a) it has not been enough (b) it has not been directed to Dem constituents and (c) it has not been accompanied by tax increases (this is what passes for fiscal responsibility in Washington these days). Will ‘compassionate conservative’ Bush veto spending bills because they redirect money to Dem causes rather than Repub? I can not imagine why.
Oh, expect knock-down drag-out fights over court nominations, especially if another Supreme goes down. In fact, I would expect any nominee to fail, unless they are a squishy statist who is willing to yammer on about how the Constitution is a living document.
Expect investigations out the wazoo, which should paralyze the executive branch (not that that would take much) and the intelligence community (hmm, bug or feature?) and produce lots of political theater, but in the end it will all signify nothing. These investigations are actually Pelosi’s best opportunity to divert and satisfy her nutty lefties (if she cares to do so). The alternative is to let them actually try to make policy (shudder).
A couple of issues to keep an eye on. The Dems have gone dark on the issue of gun control, but there is no reason to believe they do not still want it. One sign of their (over?)confidence in their position will be if they feel bold enough to come back out of the closet on this issue.
For a very early indicator of whether the Dems are serious about governance, keep an eye on who gets the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. The presumptive chair, Alcee Hastings, belongs to a very exclusive club – federal judges who were impeached and removed from office for corruption. If Pelosi gives him the job, then look for a wild ride for two years, because the inmates will truly be running the asylum.