All that is left is waiting, as we contemplate the returns; nevertheless, the results tonight will have one immediate repercussion and one more significant but gradual one. Regardless of the winner or loser tonight the President and Congress will return to the Capitol with an enormous plate of work to address in a lame duck session that could tell much about effect that this election has had on both the winners and losers. It amounts to three issues:
1. Will the President and the Congress agree on what to do about the automatic sequestration—compulsory cuts across the board–in all Government services and activities at the end of 2012 or will they fake a temporary solution and kick the can down the road for the first quarter of 2013?
2. Will the President and Congress permit the Bush tax cuts to expire in part or in their entirety at the end of 2012 or will they fudge that issue as well until 2013?
3. Will the President and Congress address the debt ceiling issue and remaining budgetary problems or continue a band-aid approach?
Clearly if Obama loses the Congress will do the absolute minimum, assuming that a President Romney will join the Republicans in Congress on the road together next year. If Obama wins he could try to come out of the post-election gate all fired up and reveal a fighting leadership attitude that he has yet to show, except on the campaign trail. This would provide for a fascinating scene in Washington before the New Year.
The other slower developing effect that is worth considering will be the future of the Republican Party. Regardless of whether Romney wins or loses, the GOP must realize based on some of the extreme candidates who lost in 2010 as well as those who ran and might lose tonight, the future of the Party may well not rest with the Tea Partyers but with a more traditional direction most recently personified by Governor Christie’s behavior vis-à-vis the President during hurricane Sandy.
In politics it never ends, only the tunes change.