Will a New Congress Be More or Less Likely to Compromise on the Deficit?
After a year of talking about the growing federal deficit, one might guess that both Democrats and Republicans would feel compelled to have an adult conversation about the issue after the bipartisan debt-reduction commission reports its findings in December and a new Congress kicks off next year. The New York Times, however, reports that — if anything — the expected composition of the new Congress speaks to just the opposite result:
Democrats are all but certain to lose a number of seats and perhaps their majorities. Most of the casualties will be fiscally conservative Democrats from Republican-leaning areas, leaving a smaller, more solidly liberal caucus less inclined to support cost-saving changes in future Social Security benefits, for example.
Republicans’ ranks will almost certainly be strengthened by a wave of conservatives, including Tea Party loyalists, who are opposed to raising any taxes and to compromising with Democrats generally — a stand Congressional Republican leaders have adopted. And incumbents otherwise inclined to make deals are now wary, Republicans say privately, mindful of colleagues who lost primary challenges from Tea Party candidates.
The piece quotes Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) arguing that with the influx of new lawmakers, “there are a lot of things people are going to have to be educated about, on the spending side as well as the revenue side.” He added, “They’re thinking we can come in and eliminate earmarks and everybody’s going to be happy on the spending side. Gee, that just scratches the surface.” But it’s unclear how many Republicans are going to listen to him when it comes to the possibility of raising revenues.
Resistance might be as strong among Democrats. The Wall Street Journal reports today that more than half the members of the Blue Dog Coalition are in serious peril in next week’s election, threatening the role of “human bridge” they often play in the House. And hitting Republicans on their plans to tamper with Social Security has been one of the few lines of attack that Democrats have found to resonate with voters this election cycle, so it seems unlikely that the caucus will become interested in reopening the discussion about reforming the growing entitlement program.