Oil, gas and coal interests that spent millions of dollars to help elect Republicans this year are moving to take advantage of expanded GOP power in Washington and state capitals to thwart Obama administration environmental rules. Industry lobbyists made their pitch in private meetings last week with dozens of state legislators attending a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed conservative state policy organization.
Mary Landrieu is dead, and everyone knows it but Mary Landrieu. The senior senator from Louisiana, a diminutive blond woman with a round, youthful face, is standing under a green canopy in the middle of an airfield. The canopy reads, "City of Hammond, Too Lovely to Litter." There is frustration in her voice as she repeats, yet again, the message nobody seems to be hearing. "The national race is over," she says. "This race is clearly now about what's in Louisiana's best interest." Landrieu's death was foretold on November 4, when any remaining hope Democrats might have had that their candidates' individual qualities could overcome voters' hostility to the president was washed away in a national Republican wave of unexpected proportions.
Last June, Scott Renfroe, a Colorado state senator running in a crowded GOP congressional primary, was hit with a slashing attack ad that accused him of supporting “taxpayer-funded bailouts” for a failed local bank. “Not conservative,” declared the ad run by a Denver-based nonprofit called Citizens for a Sound Government. The spot hit two weeks before the primary, which Renfroe lost by 20 points. The innocuous-sounding group was among a wave of organizations funded by secret donors that set a new high-water mark in the 2014 midterms, spending more than $170 million on congressional races, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
At certain moments during the past year’s long and often tedious march to November, the political class, already bored with discussing a GOP Senate takeover most considered nearly certain, started debating a few post-election hypotheticals. With Republicans in control in both the House and the Senate, would the president try again to strike the elusive grand bargain?(No.) Would Senate Republicans retaliate against Democrats for choosing the so-called nuclear option? (Maybe.) Would Democrats filibuster relentlessly, like Republicans did when they were the minority party in the Senate? (Probably not.
Eight days ago, President Obama went before the White House press corps to acknowledge the previous day’s midterm-election results and take his knocks. “Obviously, Republicans had a good night,” he said. “And they deserve credit for running good campaigns. Beyond that, I’ll leave it to all of you and the professional pundits to pick through yesterday’s results.” The assembled journalists, and their counterparts nationwide, didn’t need any encouragement. The verdict they reached was virtually unanimous. The Democrats had been thumped, beaten, battered, drubbed, thrashed, bashed, shellacked—the exact phrases varied, but their meaning did not. In the words of an editorial in this week’s edition of The Economist, “Mr. Obama cannot escape the humiliating verdict on his presidency.”
“The American people have spoken,” Mitch McConnell said last week, after announcing his intention to lead the Senate’s new Republican majority. “They’ve given us divided government.” It’s a habit. Since 1981, party control of the White House and Congress has been split for all but six and a half years. Voters continually tell pollsters how disgusted they are that government doesn’t function, then cast their ballots in patterns that all but insure gridlock. This pathology has many causes. One is that the electorate that votes in midterm years is smaller, older, whiter, and, these days, angrier than the one that votes in Presidential years. This contributes to Election Night whiplash; the change of control in the Senate next January will be the seventh since the Reagan Administration.
Republican victors of Tuesday's U.S. congressional elections break bread with Democratic President Barack Obama on Friday as the two sides assess what legislation can be enacted in coming months despite years of confrontation. Remarks in the run-up to the White House meeting suggested Obama and the Republicans would keep going at each other no less than they did before Republicans seized control of both houses of Congress in the Nov. 4 vote. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell, who is set to become Senate majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January, said Republicans intended to send Obama legislation repealing all or parts of the president's landmark 2010 healthcare law.
Two days before the midterm elections, Barack Obama arrived at a high school in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to campaign for Governor Dannel Malloy, who was then locked in a statistical tie with his Republican opponent in his reëlection race. The President gave a rousing speech, concluding with the obligatory photo op of him raising Malloy’s hand in presumptive victory. Nothing about the event was noteworthy, yet something about it seemed discordant. The most salient element of that image was not the President offering assurances on behalf of an embattled governor—rather, it was that the governor thought those assurances were still worth having.
There was a predictable conventional wisdom heading into Wednesday’s post-election press conference that President Obama would need to announce some sort of vaguely defined course correction, or at least show contrition. That he would need to develop a list of center-right policy proposals to discuss with Mitch McConnell over some sort of ice-breaking lunch. That he would have to abandon the partisan posture that allegedly hung his party out to dry on Tuesday night. What a shocking development it must have been, then, to see the president not completely change his set of beliefs and priorities overnight after his party fared poorly in a midterm election.
Fresh off their victory Tuesday night, Republicans may be eager to pick a fight with President Barack Obama during the lame duck session. In particular, expect a tense battle over the budget for the 2015 fiscal year. But if the GOP isn’t itching for a fight already, they surely will be when Obama takes an executive action on immigration reform that could allow millions of undocumented immigrants to live in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
Well, folks, it wasn't such a great night on the climate action front. It looks like the millions of dollars that environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer invested in the midterms didn't buy much other than a fledgling political infrastructure to sock away for 2016. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, we're likely to see a bill to push through the Keystone XL pipeline coming down the pike soon. And Mitch McConnell, probably the coal industry's biggest booster, retained his seat. In fact, McConnell and his climate-denying colleague James Inhofe of Oklahoma—the likely chair of the Senate's Environment and Public Works committee—won a lot of new friends on Capitol Hill last night.
We’ve been here before, right after the 2010 midterms, but this time may be even worse. Last time President Obama tried to compromise his way out of gridlock, but the Tea Party-driven Republicans were too insatiable. The president was willing to give away the store, but they wanted the whole damn town. They overplayed their hand, and Obama, in spite of himself, stumbled back into some semblance of coherence and principle — although his thirst for compromise brought the nation to the brink of default before he veered back in the direction of sanity.
“There is no such thing as a federal personhood bill.” Or so said Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate currently locked in a tight Senate race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, in an interview a few weeks ago. It was a surprising statement—not only because the federal personhood bill, otherwise known as Life Begins at Conception Act, does in fact exist but also because Gardner himself co-sponsored it. “This is all politics,” he added, blaming Udall for spreading untruths about him. It was, indeed, all about politics. Gardner’s strong support of personhood legislation might have bolstered his popularity among conservative Republicans.
Here are some of the important facts about Tuesday's election in New Hampshire.
Last week, in the Times, David Brooks diagnosed and decried a newish form of prejudice known as “partyism.” Citing the results of a recent study conducted by political scientists, and a recent column by Cass Sunstein, Brooks took stock of a world where research subjects express a much higher willingness to hire people who share their political beliefs, and where an increasing number of Democrats and Republicans say that they would prefer that their children not marry across party lines. Brooks wrote about how, in a “hyper-moralized” political atmosphere, a person’s political affiliation can become “a marker for basic decency.