Increasingly, senior administration officials shrug when you mention the November mid-term elections. “We did all we could,” and “it’s not our fault” is the line; their point being that if jobs (miraculously at this point) come back quickly, the Democrats have a fighting chance – but not otherwise.
It may be true, at this point, that there is little fiscal policy can do that would have effects fast enough; and monetary policy is out of the administration’s hands.
But ever so quietly, you get the impression the Obama team itself is not so very unhappy – they know the jobs will come back by 2012, they feel that Republican control of the House will just energize the Democratic base, and no one will be able to blame the White House for getting nothing done from 2010 on.
This sounds to me like one of those “if the termites hold hands” kinds of things. How well the termites support the structural integrity of the edifice of state hinges on two assumptions.
The first assumption is that the economy will come back in 2012 the way he thinks it will. But he’s not doing anything to make that happen, and in fact his taxation and regulatory policies (especially the EPA’s assault on carbon dioxide,) coupled with the dry-up in credit for small businesses, are guaranteed to inspire the productive sector of the economy to sit on its hands. That’s the key problem to Obama’s “recovery” plan: it isn’t as much the large deficits he’s running up than that he has no viable plans to grow the economy to service the debt.
The second is that a Republican controlled Congress will inspire his base. But losing Congress will also tend to demoralise his own party, especially its “regulars,” who furnish much of the “grunt work” necessary to win elections. (That’s magnified by the fact that most of the seats he’s going to lose are the contested, “blue dog” seats, the hardest to win back.) And, as the Republicans “captive” constituencies (such as the Religious Right) demonstrate, such constituencies can just stay at home.
And he’s always got fun things going on abroad to screw things up for him…