With the midterm elections one week off, it appears Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives and come close in the Senate. While such an outcome would be bad news for the Democrats, it could also trigger a fight for control of the Republican Party between traditional party members and the "Tea Party" wing.
The Republican leadership is so confident of a sweeping victory that they have already shifted their focus on to the 2012 presidential election. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell bluntly told the National Journal, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." So defeating President Barack Obama is more important to Republicans than "jobs, jobs, jobs" and improving the economy. It is more important to Republicans than immigration reform, the threat of terrorism against America, its burgeoning deficit or its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Republicans have the "Tea Party" to thank for a large part of their success this midterm. The newly constituted Republican Party will populate Congress with some very interesting characters, to put it mildly. The good news is that it will be a windfall for stand up comedians.
But most Americans may not be laughing when they come to realize exactly what's on the Republican agenda. Of course, the newly constituted Republican Party will want less government. For instance, they want to privatize Social Security, Medicare and Veteran's care. They also want to end the federal minimum wage.
Republicans will immediately push to overturn Health Care Reform legislation passed earlier this year. This would free health insurance companies to deny coverage to people with "pre-existing" conditions, deny coverage for those who lose their jobs and to deny coverage to 30 million Americans who do not currently have health insurance. It would mean an end to controlling health care costs. Health companies would again be able to rapidly raise premiums and exclude their coverage to all but the healthy and wealthy.
Republicans will want to deregulate banking and financial companies. Important financial reform legislation passed by Congress would be overturned freeing bankers to return to their old ways of making money. Remember how that movie ended last time?
Republicans probably couldn't do much to undo the help President Obama gave to the American auto companies now that they have found new life and are adding jobs. And the GOP will not be able to get back "Stimulus" money that went to preserve tens of thousands of jobs across the country and help states through their financial crises. But Republicans would try to shut down the Department of Education, and shift the responsibility to the states. So much for America achieving uniform educational outcomes.
Republicans will want to extend to all Americans the Bush Tax cuts, scheduled to lapse at the end of the year, even though it will add $4 trillion dollars to the deficit over 10 years. Polls show most Americans agree with President Obama that the cuts should apply to only to the first $250,000 of an individual's income. That would reduce the impact on the deficit by $700 billion over the next decade. But the Republicans want to make sure the rich get every penny possible to avoid class warfare.
Of course, a few dozen of America's richest oilmen, bankers and business leaders have been anonymously pouring record amounts of campaign money into the GOP, targeting close races and underwriting continuous attack ads. One Republican called it carpet-bombing and sniper attacks.
But for Republicans, victory in one or both houses of Congress will mean increased responsibility and accountability. It will mean they will have to actually declare specifically what their legislative agenda is for next year. It will likely also ignite a fight for control of the party between the center and the far right. These factors will open up opportunities for Democrats and may make Senator McConnell's one stated goal, the defeat of President Obama, impossible in 2012.