The new U.S. Senate that convenes in early January will likely be very narrowly divided, with independent thinking, moderate Senators in the driver’s seat. Above are two of them – Angus King of Maine and Richard Carmona of Arizona. And after the miserable failure of the current Do Nothing Congress, there will be no shortage of challenges facing the next Congress. Undoing that jobs destroying “Sequestration” budget cuts of over $100 Billion imposed on us by the current Congress, which many economists say that if they go into effect as scheduled next year will push us over the “fiscal cliff” and back into recession. The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year. The Democrats say keep the tax cuts for the middle class and let the tax rates for those earning over $250k per year revert back to what they were under President Clinton, when the economy was just fine; actually, really fine. The Republicans say it’s all or nothing, if they don’t get the tax cuts for the wealthy, then everyone suffers. What we need is independent, centrist Senators to break this gridlock and get each side to meet them in the middle. Like Senator Angus King and Senator Richard Carmona. Why do I think they can succeed? Let me explain what I think will happen on Nov. 6:
President Obama and Vice-President Biden will be reelected. Mitt Romney has run a miserable candidacy, and has nothing but the tired old Republican meme that more tax cuts for the wealthy will magically kick start the economy. Sound familiar? It should – that’s how George W Bush sold his tax cuts back in 2001 & 2003. It’s never worked before, it didn’t work then, and won’t work now.As the old saying goes, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings – but she’s about to start warming up. Respected pollster statistician Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com rates Obama’s reelection chances at 75%. Bettors at Intrade.com have Obama’s reelection at 66.5%, Romney chances at 33.3%.
It pains me to write this, but the gavel of the Speaker of the House will remain in John Boehner’s hands. At least he will have less of a majority and hopefully he’ll be more inclined to pass legislation that can pass with moderate Republican and Democratic support instead of only legislation he can sell to his teapublicans on the far right. Real Clear Politics (RCP) currently rates the House as 229 Republicans, 183 Democrats, and 23 tossups. My prediction is for 235 Republicans and 200 Democrats, a net gain of around 9 for the Democrats (there are currently3 vacancies, 2 Dem and 1 GOP ).
It’s the U.S. Senate where is gets interesting. Currently there are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats. One of them is retiring, Joe Liberman. RCP currently rates the Senate races as 48 Democrats, 46 Republican, and 6 tossups. But for my scoring, I’m taking 2 seats they rate as “leans Republican” back and including them in tossups – Arizona and Nevada - for a total of 8 tossups.
- 4 Republican Seats: AZ, IN, MA & NV. I think Democrat Elizabeth Warren will win in MA, Dems +1, 3 Tossups
- 4 Democratic Seats: CT, MT, ND & VA. I think Democrats will hold CT & MT No change, 2 tossups
So, let’s say Republicans hold IN & NV but Carmona wins here in Arizona, and Republicans win in ND & VA. That would give us a Senate evenly divided 50-50. With VP Biden presiding over the Senate, his tie-breaking vote gives the majority to the Democrats. Except for one little detail: RCP is counting Independent Angus King as a Democrat, and he has steadfastly refused to say which side he would caucus with. And he appears to be truly independent. He was elected twice as Governor of Maine as an Independent, defeating Republican and Democrat opponents. He endorsed GW Bush in 2000, but John Kerry in 2004. He endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and again this year – but with the caveat “considering the alternative”. He appears to relish the role of Kingmaker, no pun intended, and will no doubt make Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell earn his vote for Majority Leader, and on every other vote. And I have no doubt longtime Independent Richard Carmona will be right at his side. Perhaps not on who should be Majority Leader since he is running on the Democratic nomination, but certainly on the many vital issues the new Senate will face. And they could convince other centrists to join them in a Centrist Coalition in the center to get Republicans and Democrats to compromise and tackle the problems and issues facing us. On the Republican side, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who lost the GOP nomination in 2010 and won reelection with the votes of Democrats & Independents. Fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins. On the Democratic side, Jon Testor of Montana, who like many Montanans has an independent, centrist streak. New Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Mark Begich of Alaska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Just 6-8 independent, centrist thinking Senators could tip the balance for legislation they support. Meaningful compromise to tackle the deficit through careful, targeted spending reductions coupled with increased revenue. Letting the tax rates revert back to pre-2001 rates for those best positioned in this economy – those earning over a quarter million a year. Ending welfare – corporate welfare – by ending the billions in subsidies for big oil and other industries who don’t need taxpayers to subsidize them.
Jeff Flake has already been in Washington for a dozen years. He’s towed the line for Republicans without compromise, voting for both Bush tax cuts, voting for the Iraq war, voting to increase the debt limit under George W Bush with no pre-conditions, while joining with other Republicans to impose the stupid “sequestration” spending cuts for the debt limit to be increased under Obama. We have a clear choice in Arizona: send a partisan, Washington insider to the Senate to continue the partisan gridlock in Washington. Or, send a new, Independent voice to the Senate to work with fellow independent centrists to break the gridlock and tackle the vital issues that will face the next U.S. Senate.