Monday, October 6, 2008

You've won, now what?

A friend agrees with me that, barring something bizarre, this election is over (I wish I felt the same about the ALDS -- although at least through 4 innings, I'm getting my asked-for pitchers duel). He's already thinking about the first year agenda:
I think the more pressing question right now is what Obama perceives as his first year agenda --- whether the economy is going to mean delay for major initiatives (health care, energy, other "investment" programs, etc.). And, more importantly, whether or not he wants to reauthorize the Bush 2001 tax cuts. I see that as the key out-of-the-gate problem for the Obama administration during the 111th Congress. If they aren't reauthorized, he could very well face 1994 all over again, especially if economy is still shit. If they are reauthorized, there's not a chance in hell that any major initiative can be paid for simply by making the income tax more progressive at the very top, not post-bailout and in the middle of a revenue-draining recession. Of course, all of this is subject to politics, not normative philosophizing, so who knows. On the political front, it strikes me that Obama is going to also have to count heads in the Senate very carefully. His massive majority there is certain to conceal an inevitable conservative coalition when it comes to the major initiatives (for instance, R. Byrd on energy), and one doesn't want that to screw him the way it did Clinton in 1993.
The point about counting heads reminds me that there's an outside chance of the Democrats hitting 60 in the Senate. But, that number includes two independents who organize with the Dems, Sanders from Vermont and -- blech -- Lieberman. I'd rather the Dems achieve 'only' 59 so they can kick Lieberman off every damn committee and make his final four years in the Senate miserable. Or better yet, appoint him ambassador to Bostwana.