Why Republicans Might Not Want To Take Back The House

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Democrats, House, Republicans

Of course you always want to be in power, right?

Well…not according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal…and I have to say that the points are intriguing if the GOP wants to win the White House in 2011.

From WSJ:

If Republicans win control of the House, which is the big prize this year, they’d take on much more responsibility for what happens in Washington. Yet inevitably they would be in charge by such a slim margin they wouldn’t be able to really control much, particularly if Democrats keep control of the Senate, which seems likely.

Republicans’ own flaws and divisions, rather than those of the Democrats, would move to the forefront. President Obama actually would find it easier to move to the political center, which is where he’ll want to be for his own re-election campaign in 2012.

There are good reasons, in short, that some Republicans say privately that they hope they get close to taking control but don’t go over the top. That, they think, would set them up better to take back control of everything—presidency, House and Senate—in 2012.

So, it does make some bit of sense. But how’s that for a rallying cry, “Let’s win!!!…only so much!”

Still…it seems like Obama is in a good position to move more towards the center anyway. He’s already passed landmark health care legislation and now he can attempt to push immigration to the side and zero in on climate change with Lindsey Graham’s help. After that he has his deficit commission, which will inevitably advise him to raise the age on Social Security and Medicare, as well as cutting certain, outdated entitlements programs. The Republicans don’t want to be in power when that gets pushed through in early 2011? Hmmm…

Basically what I’m saying is that the “Obama becomes more centrist” narrative is already shaping up regardless of whether or not the Republicans win the House.

Also, voters already look at Republicans as merely obstructionists anyway, so if they get close to taking the majority or they do take it…without any discernible plan to make things better apart from tax cuts…do they really think that’s a recipe for electoral success?

What do you think?

This entry was posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010 and is filed under Democrats, House, Republicans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Why Republicans Might Not Want To Take Back The House”

  1. kranky kritter Says:

    I think it only matters to wonks, who love questions like this. It’s not actually a STRATEGY. because every person running will be trying to win.

    And I don’t think it affects Obama’s agenda anyway, even if it will affect how partisans spin what he is doing. Obama used most of his popularity in getting through healthcare reform and henceforth is going to need to draw from both sides of the aisle for additional changes.

    Nothing especially controversial will get dealt with until after the midterms. Vengeance-seeking Americans with lopped 401ks and jobs will overwhelmingly suppoprt whatever “financial reform” amounts to.

    Both immigration and “climate change” legislation will be controversial things that various pols will try to score points with, but nothing will happen. I’m especially skeptical that anything will happen on immigration, because of the peculiar position of the parties versus public sentiment. For various reasons, both parties don’t want to see big changes. But IMo a solid majority of Americans wants immigration sanity that promotes streamlined sensible legal immigration and both deters illegal immigration and precludes illegal immigrants from entitlements, services, and anything resembling “amnesty.” Neither party can envision a winning play on the issue.

    On climate change, I expect that if anything passes it will be cosmetic, toothless, and riddled with loopholes. Which suits me fine.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    I think it only matters to wonks, who love questions like this. It’s not actually a STRATEGY. because every person running will be trying to win.

    Completely agree…and we’re both wonks aren’t we?

    Also, agreed that he won’t deal with anything particularly earth shattering before the mid-terms, especially given his unwillingness to back immigration reform. Still, he took up healthcare before I thought he would so you never know.

    However, I have to disagree with climate change. He has Lindsey Graham backing him and with the current situation in the Gulf, this gives him a golden opportunity to push that legislation through.

    Last…I’ve always contended that common sense immigration reform won’t happen until we truly secure our borders. If Obama is smart, he’ll send more troops to the border to stop illegals from coming through and then address it late 2010, early 2011.

    We shall see.

  3. kranky kritter Says:

    On healthcare reform timing? I think if you are elected with a substantial majority and with a genuine desire to make serious changes, you do the hardest and most controversial one first, while your political capital is highest. Notice that this would mean you wouldn’t try such a gambit if elected by a hair’s breadth like Bush was in 2000.

    Last…I’ve always contended that common sense immigration reform won’t happen until we truly secure our borders. If Obama is smart, he’ll send more troops to the border to stop illegals from coming through and then address it late 2010, early 2011.

    Not an idea without merit, IMO, but it serious begs the question of how to do so when it’s logistically so much easier to immigrate illegally than legally. Even if we tripled the border patrol and put up more fences and lights, this would still be true.

    So IMO, curtailing illegal border crossings should go hand in hand with a cleaner and expedited process for allowing immigrants to come here temporarily to work while beginning a process by which they might legally earn citizenship.

  4. Nick Benjamin Says:

    The problem with the “secure our borders first” approach is that the border is almost impossible to secure as long as there’s demand for cheap labor in the US and a willing supply in Latin America. It’s like trying to crush the illegal speakeasies before repealing Prohibition. Probably possible, not easy, and kinda silly as most of the problem would go away if there were legal options.

    kk is making a gigantic understatement when he says it’s “logistically so much easier to immigrate illegally.” It is legally impossible to immigrate unless you are a) someone with extremely valuable skills, or b) have relatives with US Citizenship. A tree-trimmer cannot immigrate legally. Period.

    As for Obama’s legislative agenda Financial Regulation is as good as done. McConnel blinked.

    IMO the only other big thing he’ll push for is Cap-and-Trade. He’s got that through the House already, and he’s got a clear path to 60 in the Senate. He’s got industry on his side, and the electoral reward of pushing it through is clear. Note that if he does climate change it will be substantive. He’s got potential EPA regulation of Carbon emissions in his back pocket, and he’ll catch hell from the base if the Senate passes BS and he doesn’t use it.

    Immigration reform’s politics are trickier. Long-term comprehensive reform is the only sensible political strategy. Short term there’s not much he can do. He could probably get the various committees to report proposals by the November election if he really leaned on them, but he ain’t getting to 60 Senators that quick.

    It probably would be a useful issue in a couple tight Senate races, so he’ll let Harry Reid fight for it. Meanwhile he’ll continue to (at least) investigate the AZ law so Hispanics know he hates it. And he’ll tell Latino voters the truth — if they want to beat the anti-immigrant sentiment that pervades much of the country they’ll have to play smart politics.

    As the GOP is aligned closely with anti-immigration activists their best bet is to support Democrats. Primary voting is important, because that way Blue Dogs will at least think real hard before they screw Mexicans.

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