What's ahead for Washington this week: Mid-terms & compromise?
By Jon H. Harsch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
Washington, Oct. 24 - With Congress due to take up urgent legislation in a lame-duck session in three weeks, one scenario discussed here in Washington is that next week's mid-term elections will result in a Republican-led House and near parity in the Senate next year, forcing the two parties and the administration to abandon partisanship in favor of compromise. That seems logical since neither party will be able to accomplish anything on its own. In this view, the compromise might follow the pattern set by Britain: stringent spending cuts bolstered by some tax increases - unless Britain's new anti-Keynesian policies are seen to be tipping that country's weak recovery back toward recession.
One problem with the compromise forecast is that neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to be preparing for compromise. Perhaps to make sure it doesn't happen, both parties along with unions and independent groups are spending lavishly on a final-week blitz of extremely negative campaign ads. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele confidently predicts that the result will be “an unprecedented wave on Election Day.”
There's also the the likelihood that along with as many as 20% of voters who've already filled out early ballots, the great majority of voters have made up their minds. If so, the outcome may already be settled: a Republican House and a Senate even more gridlocked than before.
A final challenge to the compromise theory is that the British compromise is possible because elections there last May led to a coalition government with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats joining forces. The result is a government in which Conservatives are accepting the need for significant tax increases and large defense spending cuts while the Liberal Democrats are accepting sharp cuts in social welfare programs. So hopes for a compromise Congress emerging from the mid-terms may fail because instead of having a middle-of-the-road third party like the Lib-Dems, the third-force in the new Congress is likely to be the Republicans' new and very vocal “Tea Party” wing, firmly committed to principle, not compromise.
Meanwhile, both Republicans and Democrats will be on the road this week. Sarah Palin will continue her cross-country string of rallies in support of “good old Reaganism - lower taxes, less government intrusion and overreach, smaller, smarter government.” Moving on from Texas, she told a Florida rally this weekend that “It's about saving our Republic as we know it and taking America back for the unemployed, the over-taxed and the over-regulated.”
Headlining his own series of rallies, President Obama said in Minnesota this weekend that voters should remember the Bush policies which created “the worst financial crisis and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” - and “remember that this election is a choice, between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are leading us out of this mess.” This week, the President's campaign appearances will take him to Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, and Ohio.
To help remind voters of the administration's recovery efforts, Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack will be in Georgia Monday talking about USDA's broadband and renewable fuels programs. He'll be doing more of the same Tuesday in Ohio where Democrats are fighting hard in key races such as Gov. Ted Strickland's re-election bid, with polls putting him well behind Republican candidate John Kasich. Again talking renewable energy and the jobs it generates, Vilsack will be in Virginia Thursday.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will be making similar pitches this week in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Vice President Biden will spend his week on the campaign trail first in Florida, then New Hampshire for his 100th event for 2010 candidates, New York City, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and in Dubuque, Iowa to campaign for Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA).
USDA's Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:
Monday, October 25, Cotton Ginnings, Poultry Slaughter, Crop Progress
Tuesday, October 26, Monthly Milk Cost of Production, Weather-Crop Summary
Wednesday October 27, Broiler Hatchery
Thursday, October 28, Vegetables and Melons Outlook, U.S. and Canadian Hogs
Friday, October 29, Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook Data tables, Dairy Products Prices, Rice Stocks, Agricultural Prices, Egg Products, eanut Prices, Peanut Stocks and Processing
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