Friday, April 30, 2010

That's Ridiculous ... And Yet ...

Whatever else you may say about him — and there certainly are many things one could say about him — House Minority Leader John Boehner is not bashful about expressing himself.

In a conversation with NPR, Boehner said Republicans will seek to repeal the health care reform legislation if they win a majority in Congress in this year's midterm elections.

My immediate reaction was twofold:
  • I sort of took it for granted that the Republicans in Congress wanted to repeal the health care bill. I thought they made it quite clear that they were against it.

  • They've also been aiming to recapture a majority in Congress. That would allow them to control the agenda for the last two years of Barack Obama's term in office.
At this point, I am inclined to think that the Republicans are poised to narrow the gap between themselves and their Democratic colleagues, but I'm not convinced that either chamber is going to flip — yet.

So, right now, anything Boehner says about what Republicans might do if they pull off a 1994–like reversal in the midterms strikes me as being so much wishful thinking.

And then Boehner came across as just plain looney when he asserted that "at least 100 seats are in play." Never in the history of midterm elections has one party enjoyed that kind of lopsided advantage over the other.

And then ...

Boehner spoke about the special election in Massachusetts, in which Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat that had been held for nearly half a century by Ted Kennedy. And he said this: "If Scott Brown can win in Massachusetts, there isn't a seat in America the Republicans can't win. What we're seeing every day is the playing field widen, widen beyond anything we've seen around here during my 20 years."

I find that argument harder to refute.

Next Friday, we will get the jobs report for April — and it will answer some important questions, or, at least, it will start to answer them. Will the economy see jobs added for the second straight month? Or will the March numbers turn out to be a mirage brought about by some sort of economic abnormality?

While I would welcome any good economic news, I am skeptical about the likelihood of seeing any kind of noticeable dent in the unemployment problem by the time that voters go to the polls in November. That would require many months of continuous high six–figure gains — in permanent, not temporary, employment — and I have seen no reputable forecasts that predict anything like that.

Common sense tells me the Democrats can't get credit for creating enough jobs to earn them many points with the voters this fall.

They need to be looking for ways to connect with disgruntled voters if they want to retain their majorities in 2011.

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