THE BLOG
10/22/2014 03:39 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2014

The Midterm Morass

Though little has been accomplished by Congress over the last two years, the mid-terms are upon us.

This means that anyone who is remotely politically active has been inundated by a barrage of emails from candidates, PACs and so-called independent committees far and wide seeking campaign funds. It also means that all of us have been besieged with television ads, computer pop-ups and mailers either touting the candidates on whose behalf the missives were sent or -- much more likely -- portraying their opponents as veritable enemies of the democratic state.

The Republicans, from all accounts, are favored to add to their majority in the House of Representatives and take the Senate as well, though the latter possibility is still considered a close call. The House remains a GOP bailiwick largely because of partisan re-districting in 2010, when they first recaptured the House. The GOP edge in Senate contests largely results from the fact that there are more than half a dozen seats currently held by Democrats in either very red states that voted for Romney in 2012 or purple states where President Obama is anathema to large majorities. Consequently, Senators Landrieu, Hagan, Begich and Pryor are in trouble in Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Arkansas; open seats in South Dakota and Montana held now by Democrats will probably switch; and there is a close contest in Iowa.

Thus, the horse race.

When you try to explain, however, why the horses are thus aligning, reason takes a holiday.

It's not that political prognisticators cannot give reasons. They can and do.

It's that none of those reasons should be working given the current environment.

Reason number one is that the economy is still in the doldrums, and this historically favors the so-called "out" Party. The doldrums are real -- income inequality is the highest it has been in 100 years; the poverty rate has been at 15 percent for three years; record numbers are now on food stamps; and growth -- while positive -- is still weak and, in any case, not producing wage gains. None of this, however, should favor Republicans. The GOP has supported the very policies -- tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor and middle class, weak unions and assaults on public sector employees -- which created these conditions, and opposed any policies -- additional stimulus, the automobile bail-out, the infrastructure bank, and the Affordable Care Act -- which helped or would have helped to alleviate them.

Meanwhile, the right wing echo chamber at Fox beats the deficit drum and the creditor class in general continues to warn of impending inflation. This occurs despite the fact that (1) the deficit has been coming down like a rock for the last four years (and, as a long term matter, would come down more appreciably if sufficient stimulus had been enlisted to create less than anemic economic growth) and (2) there has been little to no inflation since the financial meltdown in 2008 and the lesser Depression that followed.

Ah... on the economy, it always comes back to 2008.

Which, though more than true, is too bad for the Democrats.

Americans have short attention spans. We refuse to dwell on the past and reject leaders who overly whine about it. Obama's poll numbers are at a low because he has been at the helm for the last six years, and while better, things are not great. Pointing out the reasons... or that Obama inherited all of these problems from Bush... or that the Republican Party as a whole has raised obstruction and the politics of "No" to an art form... or that things would have been a lot worse had we followed their policies for the last six years...

Comes too close to whining.

Even if it is accurate.

Consequently, it looks like the GOP is getting a free pass this cycle. If Republicans win, it will be because -- and only because -- voters hold Democratic incumbents in red states and Obama in the White House responsible for the fact that things are not better. This is not fair but, as JFK famously warned us, life is unfair. The buyers remorse, however, will be enormous because the GOP literally has no policies to spur growth or dampen inequality. Tax cuts do neither in an environment where wages are flat; in fact, they create more inequality by massively improving the lot of the 1%. And wholesale attacks on public sector employees simply drive down the wages of middle class wage earners.

All of this is obvious and should matter.

But in an age of unlimited corporate campaign spending by anonymous donors hiding behind hypocitcally named "independent" committees...

It doesn't.