Politics

John Edwards: I Did Not Break the Law

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June 3, 2011, 11:28 a.m.

MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said 10/8 dur­ing an ap­pear­ance in Sioux City, IA that it’s “still to early to make a de­cision” on run­ning for WH ‘12. Pawlenty: “Ob­vi­ously people ask a lot about 2012 and that’s something that I’m go­ing to de­cide early next year.”

Pawlenty was the “fea­tured speak­er at a pro-fam­ily re­cep­tion and fun­draiser” in sup­port of the IA Faith and Free­dom Co­ali­tion.

In re­fer­ring to the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence, Pawlenty said “it doesn’t say we’re en­dowed by our state le­gis­lat­or, it doesn’t say we’re en­dowed by our mem­ber of Con­gress, it says we are en­dowed by our cre­at­or with cer­tain un­ali­en­able rights … and so we know that these are bless­ings, these are grants from not Con­gress or from the gov­ern­ment, but from our cre­at­or.”

Pawlenty’s speech took aim at the policies of the cur­rent Con­gress and ad­min., while out­lining his vis­ion for the dir­ec­tion of the coun­try. Pawlenty: “We need to do all that we can to at the state level and the na­tion­al level to get this back on track and we’re go­ing to do it not by grow­ing the gov­ern­ment. … Un­for­tu­nately we have a pres­id­ent and a Con­gress that sees it the oth­er way and you can’t be pro-job and anti-en­tre­pren­eur.”

Pawlenty’s stop in Sioux City was part of a two day vis­it to IA which in­cludes stops in Coun­cil Bluffs, Sioux Cen­ter, Hamilton County and Ames (Yo­der, “Iowa Polit­ics,” 10.10).

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of the column mis­stated the ma­jor­ity’s per­cent­age in the Sen­ate. Re­pub­lic­ans have a 56 per­cent ma­jor­ity in the House.

With the elec­tion less than sev­en months away one out­come is likely: whichever party ends up con­trolling the House will have a smal­ler ma­jor­ity than the 242-193 one Re­pub­lic­ans en­joy now (just un­der 56 per­cent); and the Sen­ate’s will be closer than Demo­crats’ 53-47.

In the House, it looks highly doubt­ful that Demo­crats will score the 25-seat net gain ne­ces­sary to cap­ture a ma­jor­ity. But a net gain of some seats is very likely. One party will not score a net gain of 63 seats in one elec­tion as Re­pub­lic­ans did in 2010 — the largest gain for either party since 1948 and the largest midterm-elec­tion gain since 1938 — without giv­ing up some of those seats. The re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess may have some fairly ex­plos­ive res­ults in in­di­vidu­al states and real con­sequences to spe­cif­ic mem­bers. At this point, Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port House Ed­it­or Dav­id Wasser­man es­tim­ates, Re­pub­lic­ans are likely to score a na­tion­wide net gain of one seat through re­dis­trict­ing. If the Flor­ida map is thrown out in the courts, though, that could change. Two states, Kan­sas and New Hamp­shire, have yet to com­plete their maps. They are not, however, ex­pec­ted to fea­ture dra­mat­ic changes. While a 25-seat net gain is not an enorm­ous num­ber of seats, Wasser­man es­tim­ates that 80 per­cent of in­cum­bents who gained par­tis­an ad­vant­age were Re­pub­lic­ans. The re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess prob­ably saved them 10-15 seats over­all. Wasser­man puts the chances of Re­pub­lic­ans los­ing seats at about 90 per­cent. Mod­est losses for Re­pub­lic­ans are ex­pec­ted, but the chances of those ap­proach­ing 25 are very slim.

In the Sen­ate, ba­sic arith­met­ic makes at least some Demo­crat­ic losses in­ev­it­able. Demo­crats have 23 seats at risk. Re­pub­lic­ans have just 10. If you knew noth­ing else, since one party has al­most two-and-a-half times more seats ex­posed than the oth­er party, this provides a very strong hint of the out­come. Open seats are usu­ally harder to hold onto than those with in­cum­bents. Demo­crats have sev­en open seats com­pared with only three for the GOP. This of­fers an even big­ger hint. Clearly, the an­nounce­ment of the re­cent re­tire­ment by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, re­mained im­port­ant. The open-seat dis­par­ity had been 7-to-2, even worse for Demo­crats. Fi­nally, look­ing at spe­cif­ic races, Demo­crats have eight seats that are rated by the Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port as Toss Up. Or, in the case of Neb­raska, they are worse (Likely Re­pub­lic­an). Re­pub­lic­ans only have three Toss Ups and none that are worse. Demo­crats have three oth­er seats that are com­pet­it­ive. There are also four more po­ten­tially com­pet­it­ive seats. Re­pub­lic­ans have no oth­er com­pet­it­ive seats but have two po­ten­tially com­pet­it­ive ones.

With the cur­rent Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate ma­jor­ity, Re­pub­lic­ans need a three-seat net gain if they win the pres­id­ency (and the power to break a Sen­ate tie); they need four seats if they don’t. The odds of Re­pub­lic­ans re­tak­ing con­trol were bet­ter be­fore Snowe’s re­tire­ment. Today, though, it looks pretty much 50-50. Their gains look most likely to end up as small as two seats or as high as five. There could be an out­come ran­ging from a Demo­crat­ic ma­jor­ity of 51-49 to a GOP ad­vant­age of 52 to 48. Note the fail­ure to use the term “con­trol” in re­la­tion­ship to the Sen­ate. As we know from re­cent ex­per­i­ence, a party doesn’t be­gin to have con­trol of the Sen­ate with any­thing less than 60 seats.

With the odds that the 113th Con­gress will be even more closely di­vided than the cur­rent one, it puts an ad­di­tion­al twist to this fall and a po­ten­tial lame duck ses­sion of Con­gress. Keep­ing in mind that all of the Bush tax cuts ex­pire at the end of the year and budget se­quest­ra­tion kicks in on Jan. 2, could the parties in the ma­jor­ity want to step in and move be­fore they lose clout? Or will they choose to de­fer re­spons­ib­il­ity, to kick the can down the side­walk to the next Con­gress?

His­tor­ic­ally, Amer­ic­ans have liked di­vided gov­ern­ment: They fun­da­ment­ally didn’t com­pletely trust either party. They saw split con­trol as a form of checks and bal­ances. And his­tor­ic­ally, di­vided gov­ern­ment res­ul­ted in com­prom­ise: split­ting the dif­fer­ence and ton­ing down the ex­cesses from each side. But in today’s more-po­lar­ized set­ting, di­vided gov­ern­ment more of­ten res­ults in para­lys­is and dys­func­tion; each party is in­creas­ingly in­flu­enced, if not dom­in­ated, by their most-ideo­lo­gic­al and less-prag­mat­ic fac­tions.

The ques­tion is wheth­er the con­fig­ur­a­tion of the 113th Con­gress will res­ult in even worse para­lys­is, or force com­prom­ise. One po­ten­tially in­triguing as­pect is if in­de­pend­ent An­gus King wins in Maine. While he has not in­dic­ated which party he will caucus with if he wins (and he is heav­ily favored to win), it is very likely that wheth­er he ends ups up don­ning a blue Demo­crat­ic jer­sey — as most ex­pect un­less Re­pub­lic­ans have a ma­jor­ity locked up — or a red GOP jer­sey, he will be even more of an in­de­pend­ent vote than Snowe was. There is even spec­u­la­tion that King is so com­mit­ted to shak­ing up the Sen­ate that if the cham­ber is di­vided 50-49 on Elec­tion Day, he might opt to tie it at 50-50 to force power shar­ing.

With in­creas­ing talk of a fisc­al cliff com­ing late this year, what hap­pens after the Nov. 6 elec­tion may be just as in­ter­est­ing as what hap­pens be­fore then.

 

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