Democratic leaders are tamping down on expectations for rapid change and trying to signal they will place a calm hand on the nation’s tiller.
“The country must be governed from the middle,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. Repeating themes from election night, she said she plans to emphasize “civility” and “fiscal responsibility.”
Of course Nancy Pelosi had no desire nor has she made any attempt to "govern from the middle" in this last Congress. And "civility" has certainly not been a priority. Please excuse me if I find her promises a bit hollow. There's the obvious difference in what she and I would probably identify as "the middle" and certainly as to what defines "civility". No doubt we'd also not see eye-to-eye on how we define "competence".
Of course dampening expectations is certainly a necessity, given what has been promised and what can realistically be delivered in this financial climate. So in the next two months expect a lot of this from various Democratic leaders - especially in Congress. Why Congress?
Well, they claim to have learned a lesson from Republicans, of all people:
Yet, they face massive expectations for change and deep-seated fears of overreaching. But senior aides say they’ve learned from the mistakes of the past. Nearly every member of the current Democratic leadership in the House served through the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton was elected president. Two years later, the GOP gained control of Congress.
More recently, they’ve watched Republicans go from complete dominance to minority status in the space of two elections.
“The difference is we have the benefit of experience in seeing what happens when you gain control,” said a senior Democratic aide. “I do not envision a scenario where we’d go off on an ideological mission in an undisciplined way.”
But there are a lot of itchy trigger-fingers under the capital dome. There's also their abysmal approval ratings.
That leaves them with two ways to approach this: one, get all you can while you can, understanding that in 2 years it might all change again - to the benefit of the opposition - and not allow you to pass those things you desperately want to pass, or two, be disciplined, take little steps, disappoint your constituency and see it all change again in 2 years anyway.
Knowing how "disciplined" Democrats have been in the past and how ineffective the Congressional leadership has been, I don't see any imposition of that sort of discipline as being particularly effective for very long. With their eyes on their own races in two years, Democratic legislators are going to want to deliver on what they've promised. What they've run on are all the promises Obama made.
So if Congressional leadership eventually erodes in terms of enforcing discipline, that shifts another leadership burden on Obama. Ironically, he may end up having to be the brake on Congress. Unfortunately, there's nothing in his past to indicate he'd be willing or able to stand up to his own party. Of course that would certainly be a step toward governing from the middle, but it is something which remains unknown at this point. Add the fact that Congress is going to be trying to put his promises into legislation and pass it, and you can see that the incentive to act as a brake is severely eroded.
As for this attempt to lower expectations, my sense is that won't be successful and, in fact, pressure will build very quickly to start the promised "change". Those who enthusiastically endorsed and supported Obama and the Democrats aren't going to want to wait for the payoff. And the economic ignorance that the Democrats so willingly exploited during the campaign could now be their undoing as their constituency demands they go full speed ahead in an economic climate that simply won't support it.
So while Democrats appear to believe they can exert the discipline necessary to "govern from the middle" and delay putting their agenda into full motion until the economy improves, the pressure to go farther and faster is definitely going to be there. As they'll likely discover, they can exert all the discipline in the world, but overpromising and not delivering is precisely what caused the Republicans their problems. In the Republicans case it was all about their promises to reform government and cut spending, and they did neither.
The Democrats are all about expanding government and spending. And in normal financial times, that would be something they could do (whether we like it or not). What they don't seem to understand, however, is all the "discipline" in the world, even in the face of financial disaster, won't change the expectations that have been built on the promises they made. In fact, in the face of the financial disaster, the demand for more government and more relief may increase.
So while they claim to have learned their lesson, they are smack dab in the middle of having to live up to their promises. If they don't, their stock is lowered. If they do, they may deepen the financial problems of the country. If there is a safe middle ground, I certainly don't see it. And I also don't believe the Democrats really have or can exert the discipline necessary to walk that narrow path if it even exists.
One point worth making is that if we can’t afford all those high-flying social programs now, when the economy is down, why will be any more able to afford those high-flying programs next time the economy is down?
A sustainable government (word chosen carefully) must be no larger than can be supported during bad economic periods. Now is a great time to evaluate the worth of government programs, with no thought given to the possibility of better economies later.
Now, if the government could actually save up money for later in any reasonable way, this way of looking at things might not be necessary. But since it can’t....
With their eyes on their own races in two years, Democratic legislators are going to want to deliver on what they’ve promised. What they’ve run on are all the promises Obama made.
I agree that this will be Obama & Pelosi’s biggest problem in "governing from the middle". (What a crock!) The dems in the House are under the gun. Deliver or get tossed in two years, and Pelosi will be a target of retribution. Reid has a little more leeway.
Given the current chaos in world finances (and the fact that there is even more crapola coming), I suspect the Dems will be running as hard as they can to get their anit-Capitalist agenda passed sooner than later. After all, Congress & the Fed had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the current mess, right? So we must all get on the bus and let them fix it, okay?
I suspect most Americans have no idea of the misplaced mantle of invincibility they have bestowed on "The One". The Dems & Obama have all ready shown how they will deal with ANY criticism: ad hominem attacks and if that fails call the critiquer a ’racist’ simply because they raise questions about what our government is trying to pull. If history is any guide, Obama will team with the Dems and ram through as much of their garbage agenda as they can, as fast as they can before enough people get tired of being called names and start to demand serious soultions to the vexing problems that face us all.
But we get what we elect...hope the nation is ready for it, but some how I doubt it.
That’s right. Obama and Pelosi will be under excruciating pressure to pass reams of anti-capitalist, anti energy legislation. With RFK jr. at the head of EPA, the global warming dictatorship will set sail to destroy energy production everywhere US companies operate. They can’t stop themselves, honestly, they can’t.
jpm100 - "middle ground" is probably more of an attempt to redefine what is officially the center of American Politics.
Once again, you nail it. I think that the dems (spit) will try their usual Orwellian tactic of redefining the meaning of words, in this case such words as "middle", "centrist", "moderate", and "bipartisan". They tried - and to some extent got away with - redefining "patriotism" over the past few years, after all. The MSM will be with them the whole way, of course. This an example of how it will work:
1. We’ll be hit with a fear campaign about how Social Security is on the cusp of bankruptcy. This will require an about-face by the dems (spit): where they resisted Bush’s plans to overhaul Social Security with the claptrap that the system is projected to be solid for decades, NOW they’ll preach nothing but gloom ’n’ doom and ASSURE us that, if we don’t "reinvest" our retirement savings into the system, it will go broke in the next couple of years. They’ll blame Bush, of course: he raided the fictitious "lock box" to pay for his "illegal" war (another reason to surrender ASAP). Not that anybody in the MSM will ask how the dems (spit) didn’t know this before, but if anybody asks that inconvenient question, The Annointed One will make the same excuse Slick Willie made when he reneged on his promised tax cuts back in ’93: "The situation is far worse than I thought, and emergency measures are need to deal with the crisis."
2. The dems (spit) will propose legislation that is clearly left-wing, such as siezing 401k and pension plan money. It will be presented as an "investment" and given a noble title such as the Bipartisan Retirement Investment and Security Act of 2009. It will be praised as a moderate, common-sense measure and compared favorably with what is done in Europe.
3. One or two token RINO’s will give a veneer of bipartisanship. The bill will become known as the Hagel-Clinton Act (gotta throw a bone to the Hilldabeast). Not that I think the GOP will resist much: if the dems (spit) do this in the period immediately after the coronation (should I call it the Second Coming?), the GOP will be disorganized due to shock of losing so badly, recriminations about who is to blame, and confusion about the role they ought to play in the New Order. They’ll be bombarded with admonitions from the MSM and the new democrat (spit) overlords about how they should be "bipartisan" and give the new president his "traditional" honeymoon period. They’ll also be terrified of forever losing the senior vote if they don’t go along. Once again, RINO’s will aid in this effort to stifle GOP resistance: "We need to give the new administration a chance!" At any rate, many in the GOP will fall in with the belief that the American people WANT socialism and big government and will be only too happy to raid our retirement funds. There aren’t many politicians who can resist the urge to take and spend our money if given a halfway decent excuse.
4. News reports will repeat the meme that it’s an "investment", juxtaposing the retirement / Social Security crisis with the "guaranteed" interest rate and the "security" of a government-backed fund. Economists from prestigious universities tell us in detail just how wonderful the plan will be, how it will make Social Security solvent for all time, how it will boost the stock market and bring stability to the economy, etc, etc. They’ll also run the usual raft of interviews with people who will suffer if the bill doesn’t go through, showing lots of video of poor older widows with cancer who lost their retirement funds in the recent financial crisis and will have to eat dog food if something isn’t done to guarantee a decent Social Security benefit.
5. Any resistance to the plan - and I think many Americans, especially those who have built up some nest egg money, won’t be too thrilled at having their retirement money confiscated no matter what pie-in-the-sky promises are made about how it’ll be "invested" - will be met with accusations of "selfishness" and "racism" (oh, I’m sure that The Annointed One will get LOTS of mileage out of that epithet in the next four years). Once again, the MSM will trot out "man on the street" interviews: people who don’t trust the stock market and yearn for the security of a government-backed retirement and who think bailing out Social Security is just the right thing to do.
6. The bill will be signed into law by a beaming President Obama, who will give a great speech from his teleprompter about how this is the sort of change that Americans hoped for, and shows what good can be done when all sides work together to provide common sense solutions to the tough problems our country faces. Those of us who thought we were wisely planning for the future will see the money we saved - money we might have spent on a nicer house, car, clothes, etc - taken from us. In return, we’ll get an IOU for a much smaller retirement fund than we could have made ourselves and the satisfaction of knowing that we "saved" Social Security.