I did a live chat at the Post today centered around my recent piece looking at what Obama would likely do in a second term. Here’s the transcript. Reader questions are in bold, my answers are in plain text.
Ezra, the first year of a presidential term is where legislative agendas are won and lost. Would the GOP still be able to obstruct on the scale that they have or will re-election force them to concede on the major legislative items, tax reform, immigration reform, climate and energy reform. If not, what tools are even available for the President should he return to office with the same congressional make up?
Assuming the GOP still controls the House and keeps it close in the Senate, they could absolutely obstruct on the scale we’ve seen in recent years. The question is whether they’ll want to. You can think of a few reasons they may not.
1) More must-pass items they care about. They don’t want all the Bush tax cuts to expire. They don’t want the Pentagon to see massive spending cuts. They may not even want to be blamed for a breach of the debt-ceiling.
2) Political rethink: They’ll have just failed to unseat Obama. They’ll likely have suffered some congressional losses. That will mean they’ve lost two presidential elections in a row. Political parties often begin a rethink at about that time, and perhaps some in the GOP will start to wonder whether catering to the far right is really serving them so well in general elections.
3) Personal desire. Many legislators do want to legislate. They didn’t come to Washington and give up all that time with their families and friends just to write press releases calling Harry Reid a jerk. They put a lot of their “let’s get something done” instincts on hold to beat Obama, but that failed, and so maybe they’ll want to spend a few years getting something done.
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