Don’t expect much change in next month
by jordan blum
Advocate Washington bureau
Thanksgiving is over, but the time for giving thanks hasn’t ended.
In politics, while President Barack Obama and Democrats may have claimed victory in the Nov. 6 elections, everyone can remain thankful for one magical gift — the joyous delights of congressional gridlock remaining intact.
Republicans may despair that Obama has four more years as commander-in-chief, but the GOP-led U.S. House can still prevent him from again passing anything as sweeping as his so-called Obamacare.
Those on the right can even hold out hope the president will feel emboldened enough to come out of the closet publicly as a Muslim socialist and fascist, despite his claims as a moderate Democrat and Christian.
On the left, meanwhile, Democrats can tout the campaign message of “Forward,” while Congress remains mired in a divided muck.
Sure, they can complain that the so-called “1 percenters” hold more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, but at least the leftists can feel good in knowing that the top 2 percent — or the oft-repeated “job creators — may soon be paying a little more in taxes, whether through higher rates or fewer deductions.
Otherwise, let us rejoice in the status quo. The economy continues to grow at a very slow rate and, despite the Mayan prediction, the world appears unlikely to end next month.
No one in Louisiana will have his guns yanked away by the government and people can still choose to have abortions. No one in the state will be forced to gay marry and no one will have to smoke marijuana — or be legally allowed to, for that matter — as has been legalized in other states.
And, in much of the state, we still have the secondary gift of more elections on Dec. 8. That means much of southern Louisiana still needing to choose a new Supreme Court justice and southwestern Louisiana still having to select a congressman.
The nasty 3rd congressional district race between U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, will continue with attacking television and radio advertisements ad nauseam for another glorious two weeks.
The two incumbents, who were forced in the same race because of redistricting, have combined to spend more than $4 million and counting — not factoring in third-party spending — and that just means more short-term economic development for the region.
Boustany even offered a joking, “Sorry” for the continuation of the race after he failed to win outright in a five-man pool of candidates.
In Washington, D.C., the political posturing and doom-and-gloom warnings could delightfully continue all the way through Christmas as an added bonus.
The ongoing warnings of the “fiscal cliff” — more accurately a “slope” — striking on Jan. 1 with fears of tax increases and another recession hitting hard right after everyone’s holiday spending tacks on a little extra Christmas cheer.
Phrases like the “cliff” and across-the-board spending cuts on defense and Medicare and more through “sequestration” will get repeated time and time again.
The fight over raising taxes on the top “2 percent” or closing “loopholes and deductions” will continue.
The question is largely whether Congress will extend the cliff and “kick the can down the road” to be fixed next year and allow uncertainty to loom or whether our elected officials will at least agree on a basic framework of how to raise some revenues and make substantial, but targeted, budget cuts.
Regardless, the tough details where the devil supposedly resides likely will remain unknown through the holiday season. So it will give us a 2013 to look forward to as well full of “reform”-based catchphrases on issues like the tax code and entitlements.
But, for now, we can remain thankful for some semblance of the status quo where a lot is said but only so much can be accomplished.
And, at the very least, we can know that no elected official has enough power to do anything too extreme to the right or left.
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.