Hopeychange died at 8PM [Boston time] on January 19 2010, one day short of one year old, and we’ve been spared a trillion-dollar energy fiasco and a trillion-dollar healthcare fiasco. So the questions now are, what do the Democrats do?, and what do the Republicans do?
This same sort of rude awakening greeted Bill Clinton in ’94, and he surveyed the landscape, adjusted to the new reality by moving toward the center, governing all of the people (instead of just the Democrats), and was re-elected (in spite of serial sex scandals – or “Bimbo Eruptions” as Hillary called them). Actual healthcare reform is still salvageable during Mr Obama’s first term if he goes about it piecemeal rather than throwing away the car because he didn’t like the hub caps. The more civil the Democrats are, the better for their case.
For the Republicans’ part, they, too, can learn from ’94. Newt Gingrich had a carefully researched list of legislative items (the “Contract for America”) that all polled above 60% approval ratings among likely voters of both parties. In other words, the loyal opposition has to have a clear idea of what alternative agenda it would like to pursue, or they will be correctly perceived as merely obstructionist. Congressional Republicans do have alternative proposals for healthcare – over forty bills were introduced but never allowed out of committee. Maybe now they will be, at least as a basis for discussion. The more civil the Republicans are, the better for their case.
It will be interesting to see if the West Wing is really listening to what the people are telling Washington, or if they are just going to try to shift the focus to something (anything) else. The major problems with healthcare are two – a complete overhaul of 1/6 of the American economy is simply too much government interference into the private sector (the same reason HillaryCare failed); and, this shouldn’t be done before the economy is stabilized.
The nullification of healthcare reform takes an enormous amount of pressure off of the dollar – nobody really believed that this monstrosity was going to be deficit-neutral – so the next thing to address should be an honest attempt to energize job-creation – as opposed to just more political payoffs. There are two keys to job-creation that will alert us to Mr Obama’s seriousness about the subject – government doesn’t create (real) jobs, it allows them to be created; and, small business creates over 70% of net new jobs.
The thing to remember is that job-creation follows wealth-creation (those dreaded profits). We’ll see what happens.