With the Democrats retaining 51 seats in the Senate (50 might not have been enough because a single switcher or the Independent Lieberman could have tipped things to the Republicans), or maybe 52, we will have the dreaded (by the media, not by me) “gridlock” in Washington. Politically it is bad for the Republicans that they can’t repeal the previous Congress’s legislation and force Obama to veto it, but it also means they can’t get blamed much when the economy continues to (to put it tactfully) fail to recover. And since revenue bills originate in the House, the spending won’t be as crazy.
However, I don’t think the Democrats are done yet. There could well be a lame-duck session (to try to pass an immigration amnesty or some other horror), and Obama will certainly accomplish as much as he can through administrative action the next 2 years, grabbing power and daring Congress to stop him. Through the healthcare bill, he will not only be able to very strongly influence hospital policies but also university policies (since student loans have been nationalized as part of that bill). The main action will be here and in the courts, while Congress becomes increasingly irrelevant. I predict confllict between Obama and the Catholic Church, and a big issue about how much people may be exempt from Obamacare’s requirements based on religious objections.
I think Obama has decided his legacy will be what he accomplishes in his first term, since his re-election prospects are dim; he may not even run again in 2012, being young enough to contemplate another run in 8 or 12 years when he thinks the nation will have belatedly recognized his greatness. If he does run, Hillary will challenge him.
The wild card is all the investigations that the newly Republican House will undertake. I suspect they will find enough blatant corruption that the media will be unable to demonize them as witch-hunters, and that this will lead to further trouble for the Democrats in 2012 (since Obama’s Justice Department won’t prosecute the corruption).
Please comment with your own predictions.