WASHINGTON -- The new conservative majority in the House and at least six more Republicans in the Senate gives the GOP de facto control of Congress and its agenda for the next two years.
Nothing can be enacted without the approval of the GOP House, and the enlarged Republican caucus in the Senate has significantly strengthened Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hand against a smaller, weaker and more fractured Democrat majority.
With fewer (52 or 53) Democrats on his side of the aisle, Majority Leader Harry Reid faces a lot of narrow votes and, more than likely, losing ones. President Obama's stalled tax-and-trade energy bill never went anywhere in the Senate because a bunch of Democrats from fossil-fuel-manufacturing states and the Republicans teamed up to block it. Now the votes are there to kill it.
The Obama administration's big-spending agenda is going to get the cold shoulder, too, when the president sends his budget plan up to Capitol Hill next year. If the voters spoke loud and clear on any issue, it was their belief that government has grown too big and spends too much.
After racking up nearly $3 trillion in deficits in just his first two years in office, with another $1 trillion-plus deficit in store for next year and the year after that, Republicans have made it clear that the days of Obama's spending sprees have come to an end.
A chilling new budget analysis released last week by the Heritage Foundation reveals the extent of the fiscal crisis that looms over us in the coming decade. "Soaring spending drives these dangerous deficits," says the think tank's chief budget analyst Brian Riedl. "By 2020, federal spending is set to soar to 26 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), after having averaged 20 percent after World War II."
"If Congress does nothing and simply continues existing taxing and spending policies, annual federal deficits will grow, reaching a projected $2 trillion deficit in just 10 years -- and even that assumes a return to peace and prosperity," Riedl says.
This is why a number of politically vulnerable Democrats, who will face the voters in 2012, will be lining up with Republican colleagues to vote for smaller budgets, too.
With Republicans gaining more than 60 seats in the House, their largest majority since the Truman years, they are going to be able to drive the budget process in Congress, and Harry Reid won't be able to block them in the Senate. Under the budget's reconciliation rules, there is no filibuster requiring 60 votes to take up the measure that needs only a simple majority to pass it.