Political Animal


May 08, 2013 11:21 AM Dodged Bullet

By Ed Kilgore

TPM’s Brian Beutler takes a casual comment from Paul Ryan (“Do I want my budget to become the law? Yeah. If Mitt and I won, we were planning on putting it together.”) to remind us how close the United States came to heading on a very different trajectory last November.

Had Mitt Romney won with Republicans retaking control of the Senate (the two would have likely gone hand in hand), the president-elect and the congressional leadership would have turned the Ryan Budget (along with language effectively repealing Obamacare) into a front-loaded budget reconciliation bill that would have very quickly passed both Houses by a majority vote (you cannot filibuster reconciliation bills), and would have been in law by now. You know the argument House Republicans are having about whether to offer the uninsured access to crappy high-risk pools or nothing at all? That would be the argument over national policy towards the uninsured in this alternative universe. Remember the Oregon Medicaid study that got so much attention last week in connection with state decisions on expanding Medicaid? Had Republicans won the White House and the Senate last November, the same study would have likely been used to argue that states about to enjoy “flexibility” over their shiny new Medicaid Block Grants might want to consider liberating poor people from any help altogether.

It’s easy to get discouraged about gridlock and Republican obstruction and the unprogressive impulses of Democratic politicians. But we are in a vastly different and better place than we might have been at this point. Add in the likely impact on our Constitution of a President Romney sending judicial appointments to a Republican Senate, and it’s possible to manage an occasional smile.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Peter C on May 08, 2013 11:30 AM:

    Yes, we'd hear an endless chorus of 'Up or Down Vote! ..." again.

  • emjayay on May 08, 2013 11:37 AM:

    But I was so sure that both parties were two sides of the same coin, both totally bought off by Wall Street and corporations, and I should have voted for a third party candidate instead of Al Gore or Obama because it would make absolutely no difference anyway.

  • Epicurus on May 08, 2013 11:54 AM:

    And let's serve up a big, steaming cup of STFU to all those who oppose this President from the Left. It could have been so much worse...

  • c u n d gulag on May 08, 2013 11:55 AM:

    That, and because the Neocons would have immediately crawled back out from their hiding places on FOX 'n Sucks, and the WaPo's and WSJ's Op-ed pages, we'd likely be getting over the ramifications of having just bombed Iran, and landing boots on the ground in Syria.

  • Rabbler on May 08, 2013 1:20 PM:

    Moderates are really just one trick ponies. All the rest is just window dressing and mutual gratification with a few scraps thrown out to the masses after heroic hard work.

  • Wymurph on May 08, 2013 1:38 PM:

    The second term is hugely successful because it exists. Frightening to think of a Romney administration. Obama will periodically push for legislation, which republicans will kill, then pundits will call him weak because that gives them a column to write that day. This term is about protecting the gains of the first two years when we had a functioning Congress.

  • howie on May 08, 2013 3:03 PM:

    Yes, our weak "leaders" are "better" than their strong ones.

    Heaven help us all.

  • boatboy_srq on May 08, 2013 3:24 PM:

    ditto Epicurus and CUND.

  • pjcamp on May 09, 2013 1:00 AM:

    The fact that our guy is a dumbass and their guy is crazy is pretty cold comfort. I could do with an administration, and a Democratic party, that was not captive of Wall Street and the telecomm industry.