How is it that Republicans try to hold sway whether or not they win an election? It's as if they're not aware Barack Obama was reelected or just don't give a damn. They discount his victory, because it wasn't a landslide or as large as it was in 2008. But likewise it wasn't at all close, and not just because of his lopsided electoral vote triumph of 332 votes to 206. Even when one considers the popular vote, he won by four percent and, according to CNN's website, led Mitt Romney by 4.68 million votes.
That's a lot of people preferring one candidate over another, and when one remembers how much the economy was part of the debate it would appear that many more people believed Obama and his side had a better handle on how to continue the improvements already generated thus far, rather than risk returning power to the party which started the slide in the first place.
The Democrats also increased their majority in the U.S. Senate by two votes. Unfortunately, due to redistricting and the fact that many Democrats are clustered overwhelmingly in urban geographic areas, their numbers were in the minority in most of the other congressional districts in large states that went for Obama, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. That fact kept the House of Representatives under GOP control, albeit with a diminished majority, dropping from their previous fifty vote advantage to their current tally of thirty-three.
One of the main topics of discussion in the campaign was restoration of a higher tax bill for citizens making over $200,000 or couples who earn over $250,000, while keeping the present tax cut in place for everyone else. Yet even in defeat, the GOP yammers on about how they won't give in on raising taxes, reminding everyone that the American people voted to keep the House under GOP control, conveniently leaving out the fact that overall more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates in the nation, and that John Boehner was able to remain Speaker of the House simply because congressional districts are apportioned regionally as stated above.
Incredibly, the GOP clings to a sense of entitlement in their zeal to retain power no matter what the vote totals are. Even when the Democrats win control of both Houses, they use parliamentary tactics to obstruct legislation the people clearly want. And regarding their insistence that they have an equal right to govern, because the voters chose them to lead the House, let's not forget their lack of concern about such matters in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote and the U.S. Senate was evenly divided.
No, they plowed ahead, with a passionate "We're in charge" mentality. It didn't matter that the presidency itself was mired in controversy caused by a questionable U.S. Supreme Court decision that would not allow all the votes to be counted in Florida. They just went on as if they had a huge mandate to do whatever the hell they wanted.
Which leaves me to wonder why Obama, whom I supported enthusiastically, is now caving into their demands? No, he hasn't declared his agreement to allow all tax cuts to continue, nor has he kowtowed to Speaker Boehner's "generous" offer to allow tax hikes for those earning over a million dollars a year.
But Obama has apparently agreed to a counter-offer, raising taxes of those Americans earning $400,000, which most people who've had experience engaging in give and take offers realize is not where it's going to end. Boehner and his minions now know that the floor is $400,000, not $250,000, and while they may come down from their one million dollar "offer," who's to say Obama won't be forced to come up to $600,000 or perhaps as much as $750,000?
Not to mention the fact that Obama has already gone along with restoring an extra two percent of social security deductions, which will add a bunch of money to what middle class people pay in taxes per year. Plus, the president has reached an accord that will result in the reduction of social security cost of living increases by incorporating a so-called "Chained CPI" that deprives recipients of many hundreds of dollars in benefits. This is a severe change in the COLA formula that even in its current form will only yield an increase of 1.7 percent in the coming year. Shocking still comes the news that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced she will support the deal.
Boehner and his people have little right to demand anything. Yes, they have a stranglehold on legislation in the short term, but considering the recent election and that most polls show Americans are in favor of tax rates for the rich and don't want social security and Medicare changes, pragmatic Republicans -- and Boehner isn't a Tea Party fanatic -- clearly don't want the blame passed to them as they prepare for the 2014 congressional elections, which normally are a boon to the party out of party.
Now that Obama has been reelected and doesn't have to worry about personal political considerations, it would be much better to have a president who plays hardball for a change. It seemed like that was the way he was headed in the last weeks of the campaign, but now it appears as if he's in danger of reverting to Mr. Nice Guy. The frat president, glad hander which he attempted with scant success during his first term. However, Republicans have shown time and again they don't play fair even when they lose popular vote elections and have much closer electoral accomplishments. With Obama's clear victory, he might well learn a lesson from them on how to govern.
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com