Alas, the partisans are setting up a game of chicken for the lame duck. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), whose party legitimately criticizes President Barack Obama for ignoring his own debt commission, now is ruling out the Simpson-Bowles agenda because it involves higher revenue. Leaks from the White House indicate that Obama, if re-elected, will veto any bill that doesn’t raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year.
The elections may change the partisan balance of power somewhat, especially if Republican Mitt Romney is elected with a GOP House and Senate. An Obama re-election with a Democratic Senate and a GOP House would maintain the status quo. But there is no prospect that either party will have full control of the government. One party will retain filibuster power in the Senate, at a minimum.
So we hope — urgently — that the lame ducks will gather strength and make the 112th Congress historic in a positive way and set the stage for more problem- solving in the 113th.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.