The 2010 US elections have gone as expected, the Republicans taking the House, but not the Senate. This follows the usual pattern that takes place in a â€œmid-termâ€ election. It also happened with George Bush in 2006, when the Democrats made the large gains.
Not surprisingly, the Republicans see the 2010 results as affirming their agenda. The gains made by the Republicans were greater than the usual mid-term swing, and this can be attributed to the influence of the tea party. Now the tea party has served notice that it expects its agenda to be followed; otherwise, it will work towards taking out those Republicans that do not cooperate.
Unfortunately, we donâ€™t really know what the Republican agenda is, except to continue the huge Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, to overturn health care legislation and to make sure that Obama is not reelected in two years time. The agenda of the tea party Republicans is primarily to cut the deficit. It also includes getting rid of earmarks (pork barrel projects) and the health care legislation, and uncompromising non-cooperation with the Democrats.
Where does this take us? The Bush tax cuts, an overriding issue with the Republicans, run in direct conflict with the tea partyâ€™s desire to cut the deficit. Continuing the tax cuts would add $650 billion to the deficit. How does this sit with the tea partiers?
As for health care, labeled ObamaCare by its detractors, it is difficult to see how the Republicans can overturn it while the president has the power of veto. It is unlikely that the tea party wishes can be met on this issue. Also, despite the election results, 57 percent of voters are in favor of the so-called Obamacare, a percentage that is likely to rise as new provisions come into effect.
Non-cooperation with the Democrats is certainly possible. So is bringing the business of government that has to go through the House to a complete standstill. Will the Republicans do this and risk the consequences?
The truth of the matter is that tea party demands cannot be met 100 percent. The Republican Party is not so irresponsible as to make government impossible. At least some cooperation is necessary to ensure that the party is not blamed for stalemating and bankrupting the country.