Congressional Brinkmanship Kickin’ Up Fiscal Whiff

So the long drawn out process of selecting a US President is over. Barack Obama won a second term, quite comfortably in fact, with nearly a 100 more electoral
college votes and 2% more of the popular vote.

The process of picking over the caucus of the GOP had already begun live on air during the announcing of the winner. Fox News seemed to go into meltdown. Karl Rove, in particular seemed to have great difficulty grasping the result of the state of Ohio.

However, the presidential race was only one factor being decided that night. The House of Representatives was also being contested. The results proved contrary to that of the Presidential race with the Republicans winning an impressive victory.

In terms of power, the President may be able to control foreign policy but, domestically the House of Representatives have the upper hand. Hopefully, Obama will have the hindsight to learn important lessons from the last 4 years and seek to put aside the Chicago style politics. As the FT put it on Wednesday, America needs a leader who can put the ‘can do’ spirit back into the country.

Oh and there’s one other small issue for Obama to worry about: the looming fiscal cliff. A toxic mix of spending cuts and tax hikes that will come into force in the new year unless the Dems and GOP can collaborate and come to an equitable resolution. History tells us that the Republicans will not budge too much on this subject and are willing to force a shutdown or collapse of the economy over it! There hasn’t been a budget passed in the country for over 1000 days.

Could Americans face another Mexican standoff on the issue of debt and taxes? It is all primed for that situation. As President, Obama faces tough choices ahead in the form of his mandate being shrunk and a high level of hostility from the House of Representatives.


Commentary by Aaron Callan, @acallan87.

Here’s an infographic produced by the Wall Street Journal breaking down what exactly makes up the now infamous fiscal cliff:

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  • Serious mathematics problem there. In 2008, Obama had 365 electoral college votes. This time, he has 336 and Florida is being disputed. So 100 more is a slight exaggeration.

  • acallan87

    Apologies, that should read nearly a 100 more electoral college votes and 2% more of the popular vote than his rival Mitt Romney.

  • Ruarai

    Joe, I believe Brian is saying 100 off more than the GOP in this race – which is accurate.

    Less accurate however is this line:

    “The results proved contrary to that of the Presidential race with the Republicans winning an impressive victory.”

    There is not a single Republican in Washington who considers the net loss of a House seat either impressive or a victory.

    As for “worrying” about the so-called fiscal cliff, well one wouldn’t want to be complacent about the prospect of massive cuts sending the country back into recession. But is anyone suggesting Obama’s negotiating position is anything other than immeasurably stronger than it was during the last round of negotiations?

    Certainly Republicans aren’t. De Mint has already conceded the need to raise revenues to protect the military industrial complex – a seismic concession that reflects a new post-election balance of power in Obama’s favour.

    The reality is that both sides bet hugely – arguably recklessly – on the outcome of the election; a near ‘all-in’ bet the like of which we’ve arguably never seen before. Thanks to the competency of campaign architects David Plouffe and Jim Messina Obama won. Thanks to The Tea Party the GOP lost seats in the House and Senate too.

    The Democrats negotiating position is much stronger than it was 2010-2012. A deal is possible thanks to the Chicagoans, not in spite of them.

  • Good point, Ruarai, about the number. My misreading. More than Romney would have been clearer. Brian, can you remove my comment please.

  • Ruarai

    Joe – if he deletes yours, mine will look weird:) This thread could become a thread about the thread fast! All very meta. Let’s leave in in case others benefit from the same clarification

  • Greenflag

    ‘Barack Obama won a second term, quite comfortably in fact, with nearly a 100 more electoral
    college votes and 2% more of the popular vote.’

    He did but had 150,000 votes been cast for Romney instead of Obama it would be President Romney being inaugurated in January 2013 . Thus a few extra votes in 4 swing states would have made all the difference .

    FLORIDA : 24,000 votes for R instead of O = 29 EC votes

    OHIO : 50,000 votes for R instead of O = 18 EC votes

    VIRGINIA : 56,000 votes for R instead of O = 13 EC votes

    NEW HAMPSHIRE : 20,000 votes for R instead of O = 4 EC votes

    Thus Romneys 206 +29 + 18 + 13 + 4 = 270

    leaving Obama with 268 .

    In the above what if assuming all the other state popular votes remained the same President Obama would have been defeated even though he would have won the popular vote by 2 ,750,000 votes or 5 times more than Gore did back in 2000 .

    Doesn’t bear thinking about

    Heres a link for those who need a source

  • Ruarai

    Greenflag – you’re arguing that though Obama won he could have lost had the other guy got more votes?

  • I’m glad Obama won. I’m Canadian and our economy is very dependent on how well America does.
    With Obama, things seem to be on the right track. Romney’s wonderful 5 point plan seemed to consist of just two words – Trust me.
    Well, we know how well his ideas worked under Bush the Younger.

  • Greenflag

    Ruarai ,

    It’s the way you tell them 😉

    Not arguing just noting that the decision by 150,000 individual voters to vote for O instead of R in the 4 states mentioned ensured that President Obama would be re-elected .

    If they had’nt Obama’s 2 million plus popular majority in the other 46 states would not have stopped a Romney win .

    Such is how the Electoral College can work to defeat a majority popular vote -even one 5 times as large as Gore’s 500,000 majority over Bush the younger in 2000.

  • So the long drawn out process of selecting a US President is over.


    On the contrary, it has only just kicked off:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would start out as a dominant favorite in the 2016 Iowa caucuses if she chooses to run for president, a new survey from Public Policy Polling finds.

  • Greenflag

    Hilary as first USA female President .

    Good grief Karma upon Karma .

    Great idea if the good lady is up to it .
    We’ll see how it goes twixt now and then for the USA economy . A week is a long time in politics -who said Sandy ?- 4 years is a geological eon .

    I’m still in awe of President Obama’s achievement in being re-elected despite the still high unemployment rate . I guess at the end and where it mattered Republicans did’nt get out the vote .Their vote was down 0.1% in Florida Republican counties and down by 5.5% in Ohio Republican counties and where the Republican counties had higher votes than last time in Iowa their 1.2% increase was swamped by a 3.3% increase in Ohio Democratic counties .

    In Virginia it was the same story Republican counties increased their vote by 0.6% but Democratic counties increased their vote by 1.7% .

    This was Romney’s election to win . Somehow not enough Americans are still of the belief that the country’s major financial problems go back further than 4 years and they simply did’nt buy the Romney line that it was Obama’s recession .

  • Greenflag

    That last sentence above is a mess .
    What I intended to say that that enough Americans know enough about the economy and the crisis of the past 4 to 5 years to understand that a return to Bush ‘trickle down ‘ economics and ever more debt is not a recipe for fixing what needs fixing .

    Mitt’s numbers ironically for a ‘numbers man’ at least numbers with dollar signs in front of them -simply did not add up .It was’nt the economy stupid !
    It was the math stupid -to paraphrase the next post Obama USA President’s husband 😉

  • Kevsterino

    @Greenflag, one thing I’ve noticed when looking at the numbers is in several key states, the Ron Paul got more Republican primary votes than the eventual difference between Mitt and Barack in the general election. Maybe if the bigwigs had treated Dr. Paul a bit better at the convention things would have turned out differently.

    There is still a huge mess to clean up and it probably won’t be until after the midterms in 2014.

    all the best

  • Greenflag

    Kevsterino @ 9 November 2012 at 2:05 pm

    ‘ Ron Paul got more Republican primary votes than the eventual difference between Mitt and Barack in the general election.’

    Possibly but then the bigwigs never learn do they ? until not only the fat lady has finished her aria but has collapsed on stage and been stretchered off 😉 I exaggerate somewhat . .

    Mention of Ron Paul reminds me of the great service Ross Perot provided for the American body politic when he won some 18.9% of the popular vote in the Bush Sr /Clinton election in 1992 . Prior to that election the words ‘budget deficit ‘ were not heard amongst the rising politicos of both parties .

    Perot brought the issue centre stage and I’m sure Clinton was listening and looking at that 18.9% Perot vote .Clinton’s presidency did reduce the deficit -some say it turned deficit into surplus . I remember Bush Sr as referring to Ronald Reagan’s across the board tax reduction plan for the economy as ‘voodoo economics ‘. Bush Sr bit his lips and kept his mouth shut so as to inherit Reagan’s shining political ( or poisoned fiscal ) legacy .

    Had Ron Paul run I believe he would have reduced Romney’s chances of winning but some of his message would have rung a chord with many American fiscal conservatives -enough to jolt Obama and the Republicans into finding a sooner rather than later solution to the budget deficit problem .

    The timing of this particular issue has been ‘fortunate ‘ for the USA in that the ‘Eurozone ‘ is in a current state of confusion re it’s financial policies across member states as they try to respond to not only the Greek crisis but burgeoning problems in Spain and Italy .

    Thus the US dollar maintains it’s currency of last resort safety status . But if the Eurozone gets it’s act together in the next few years the dollar will be under tremendous pressure to avoid losing it’s current status.

    I believe the Democrats hold the whip hand going into negotiations re the fiscal cliff and Republicans I believe will have to compromise on terms they would rather not .

    If they don’t and the economy goes over the cliff Obama will be able to point to the GOP as being responsible for putting narrow political interest above the national interest and then it’s ‘meltdown ‘ for the GOP in 2014 mid terms .

    We could then see a break up of the GOP with the the Tea Party faction hiving off (although the Koch brother financing of them will disappear ) and the remainder trying to cobble together a third party of ‘Fiscal conservatives /more socially liberal republicans with less hostility to rising minority groups and women and the younger people of all backgrounds .

    Barring some black swan events that looks like it from this perspective .

  • Greenflag

    For the Republicans just picking more Hispanic or African American or women candidates for the House or Senate or in State legislatures won’t cut it either .

    They will have to reverse many of their current policy positions to get even close to current alienated 9from the GOP) groups .

    Whether they can or not is up to Messrs McConnell and Boethner and the primary GOP party /parties ?

  • Kevsterino

    The problem for the Republicans is the primaries. If a Republican candidate cannot pass muster with the teabaggers and the fundies, he can’t run in the general election. This is true for legislators as well as executives. In my estimation, those 2 groups have peaked and will never be any stronger than they were on Tuesday. Stay tuned for 2014, when these same extremists will stand before their boss, the people, having wrecked the next 2 years for shallow partisan gain. Folks here, even in Red Missouri are even getting fed up with these guys. The old guard in the Missouri Republican party told Akin to go away. He refused, and became part of the reason why the GOP isn’t the majority in the upper house now.

  • Greenflag

    Kevsterino @ 9 November 2012 at 7:36 pm

    ‘Folks here, even in Red Missouri are even getting fed up with these guys.’

    These people never learn to compromise -They can’t -It’s a part of their inherent ideology and world view . We had /still have to an extent a similar situation in Northern Ireland where the parties of NO i.e the DUP and UUP both managed to ignore the bloody obvious for near 4 decades before they finally kow towed to a situation which could be said to be much worse for their interests than had they used some political savvy back in the 1960’s .

    However the USA is not Northern Ireland -nor is it’s politics as frozen or polarised well not yet anyway – and the GOP wrecking tactics will not be tolerated by the vast majority of Americans for 40 years . Their time is up and they have until 2014 to avoid a precipice and further marginalisation of their party -imo .

    Can they ? My gut instinct tells me they can’t . They’ve bought into the neo con -cult of the individual uber alles -even uber common sense -hook line and sinker and they’ll go down with the ship Titanic style .

    ‘Pass the biscuits please -anyone for another cuppa coffee / Lets play musical chairs again shall we? Oh dear we seem to have taken water on board damn shame –glub glub glub glub glub glub etc 🙁

    Full speed down Captains Boehner -and McConnell ! ‘Give me the anchor ‘ shouts Presidential nominee Paul ‘Ayn Rand ‘ Ryan . I can sink her faster than anyone 🙁