“I am not on the ballot this fall," President Obama said while campaigning in Chicago this October. "But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”
Obama was right. His policies were on the ballot Tuesday night. And they were soundly defeated.
As of this writing, Republican have picked up eight Senate seas (nine if you count Louisiana), giving them a total of 53 (54 with Louisiana). They also control more than 246 House seats, a higher total than Republicans have ever controlled.
So what will Obama do now? BuzzFeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro reports:
White House officials Tuesday evening insisted that having Republicans in control of the House and Senate can usher in a new era of bipartisanship in Washington — despite the GOP’s promise to be a check on President Obama’s power. ... Obama’s team already has a laundry list of issues it says it can connect with the new GOP leadership on. Corporate tax reform meant to funnel new funds into infrastructure projects, pre-kindergarten education funding and funding for cybersecurity and fighting Ebola are a possibility, the White House says.
Sounds nice. Conciliatory even. But then McMorris-Santoro goes on to report:
Obama will also continue his pen-and-phone strategy of going around Congress. The president has promised to take sweeping executive action on immigration in the near future, a promise White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has reinforced from the daily briefing podium as recently as this week.
That is a pipe dream.
Obama can pursue bipartisan solutions with the new Republican Congress. Or he can continue his unprecedented abuse of executive power by enacting his promised executive amnesty. But he can't do both.
As soon as Obama announces his executive amnesty, he will essentially be declaring war on Congress. No president has ever usurped Congress's Article I power to "establish a uniform rule of naturalization" to the extent Obama has.
Republicans just won a wave election by promising to limit Obama's power. They will be forced to fight back. There will be gridlock, dysfunction, fiscal cliffs, and even government shutdowns. What there will not be are any bipartisan deals on anything.
Which path will Obama choose?
We won't know for sure right away. Obama already told activists he will wait until after the Louisiana runoff before he announces anything. But what will he decide after December 6th? That is the question that will set the path for his final two years in office.