The polls have held, and President Obama has been re-elected. Frankly, the hysteria and the hand-wringing are a little more than I can bear, since I can find little difference between the incumbent and the moderate Northeastern ex-Governor who implemented Obamacare in his own state before Obamacare was called Obamacare.
So what can be done with a White House won definitively by the President (303-235 electoral votes), a House won definitively by the Republicans despite modest Democratic gains, and a Senate stubbornly held, with an improved majority, by the Democrats?
Possibly nothing, if recent history is an indicator.
On the other hand, there are two areas that, pragmatically speaking, really should be attacked by all of the above without delay. They are areas of natural compromise among our divided leaders.
First, it is time to enact the bi-partisan Simpson Bowles budget recommendations — $200 billion reduction in discretionary spending per year, $100 billion in increased tax revenue, raising the payroll tax and retirement age to strengthen Social Security. During the lame duck session, tacticians in the White House and in Congress have the perfect opportunity to cherry pick among retiring congressmen, those who were not re-elected, and those who won by large margins to take a patriotic stand and show the world that we Americans are serious about responsible, balanced deficit reduction. Some of those who won re-election by small margins can be forgiven if they sit this one out.
Second, a natural area for compromise by the White House would be in the area of energy. Specifically, if we can all agree that coal is dead (not actually dead, by the way; it will continue to operate in the U.S. on a smaller, more sustainable level, serving export markets, and people will still make money from it), then the President has no choice but to lend some support to clean, American natural gas. You can’t kill coal unless you have a credible fuel with which to replace it. If coal-fired power plants are coming off line, gas-fired plants are really the only thing available to replace them. Supporting natural gas development and the development of independent gas-fired power generation in the U.S. is the President’s best hope for articulating a practical, meaningful energy policy, and it is an initiative that conservatives should be able to get behind as well.
Time to stop all the childish nonsense. Time to work together to govern. After all, that’s why you’re there.