Tea Leaf: It's time for political parties to work together

Published: Thursday, Oct. 28 2010 12:22 a.m. MDT

Donald Kinder, left, receives an early voter's sticker from Heather Evans after early voting for the Salt Lake County Elections at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office.

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

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On the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 3, literally tens of thousands of political writers, economists, lobbyists, soothsayers and bloggers will be providing their own "instant analysis" of what transpired politically the prior day. Some are likely to suffer major disappointments, while others will possibly see the benefits of a new beginning in Washington, D.C., and in statehouses across the nation.

On that Wednesday, I will likely be running through various airports (in order to then stand in line or sit and wait) to arrive in a timely fashion for a speaking presentation on Thursday morning on Amelia Island, Fla. We will have a non-political issue of the Tea Leaf released as usual on Nov. 2, meeting our commitment to nearly always release a new issue on Tuesdays.

As a result, I would like to give my two cents worth today.

We know that the political party outside of congressional control almost always picks up seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate in the mid-term (non-presidential) elections. The same is widely expected this year.

What is likely to be different this time around is, first, the large number of seats to be gained by the Republican Party, and second, the significant number of long-term incumbents of both major parties who may be sent home by frustrated voters, similar to what has already occurred in earlier 2010 elections.

Until the past few years, a longtime Democrat or Republican seat holder in the House or the Senate could boast of their membership on key political panels and their enhanced ability to send "pork" home by the truckload, aka earmarks. Such long-time incumbency is not what it used to be.

Voters across the nation — whether liberal or conservative, whether Democrat or Republican, whether independent or a tea party supporter, whether Libertarian or known by any other descriptor — have tired of the games, the childish behavior, the excessive spending, the name-calling, the distortion of facts, the paralysis that exists inside the Beltway.

We have had enough.

Dismal ratings

The ratings of our president are weak after roughly two years in office, although slightly higher than for presidents Reagan and Clinton after two years in office. More importantly, the ratings of the Congress — and especially of the congressional leadership — are at or near all-time lows.

Many pollsters expect the Republican Party to regain control of the House of Representatives, with a wide disparity as to how many seats could be returning to the party of Lincoln. The surprise would be if the House remained under Democrat control.

Change in Senate control is dicier, although the Republicans are highly likely to gain numerous seats. It is also likely that a greater-than-expected surge in Republican gains in the House would be followed by a similar surge to control of the Senate.

If so … then what?

This is where it gets more interesting.

Would the president and the current Democratic leadership use the "lame duck" period in December to attempt to squeeze through liberal legislation, possibly supported by a significant number of congressional members who would no longer be in office in January? This seems increasingly unlikely, as the Democrats would not likely have the votes in the Senate to get such legislation passed.

Would the president impose new environmental or other directives through his power to issue executive orders?

Would new Republican congressional leadership get serious about reducing the growth rate of government spending … or soon get seduced by the privileges of leadership that arguably cost them congressional control four years ago?

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