Although most of Kerry?s support comes from people who always vote Democratic and those who simply hate Bush for various reasons, presumably there are some open-minded people who simply like what Kerry is proposing and think they would be better off if he were president. These people need to think carefully about the political situation Kerry will face if he is elected.
The most important fact to keep in mind is that Kerry will almost certainly have to deal with a House of Representatives that will be under Republican control. I know of no political forecaster on either side who thinks that the Democrats have any real hope of retaking the House.
Moreover, Republicans will probably hold the Senate, as well. Although Democrats have a better chance there than in the House, they will have to get all the breaks to regain control. And if they do, their margin will be razor thin, with Republicans in a position to easily block any Kerry initiative with filibusters.
Therefore, Kerry is going to have a very difficult time getting traction on any proposal he may have that requires legislative action. We can also assume that Republicans will repay the Democrats for stalling their judicial nominees by making sure that all of Kerry?s wait a long, long time for confirmation.
Where Kerry may have a slightly stronger hand is in tax policy. That is because all of the Bush tax cuts expire in coming years. Consequently, Kerry could impose a fairly substantial tax increase simply by vetoing efforts to extend them or make them permanent. Although Kerry himself favors some of these tax cuts, a potential veto might give him leverage on other issues.
In short, we are likely to see a legislative stalemate, with neither side in a position to get much of anything done. Thus, those hoping for some new government benefit that Kerry has promised them are unlikely to see it even if he wins. Congress is going to be a sinkhole for just about every Kerry initiative except tax increases, which he can impose with just his veto pen.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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