Split Congress leaves US still on edge of 'fiscal cliff'
Thursday 08 November 2012
So the Republicans retained their majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrats kept control of the Senate – a recipe for continued gridlock in Congress as the country is threatened with tumbling off a "fiscal cliff". Yesterday, jittery world markets reacted accordingly and stocks plunged.
Mr Obama's victory is less clear-cut than it may seem from his overwhelming electoral-college victory over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The American public remain bitterly divided at the national level, and the situation in Congress, which has legislative power and controls the country's purse strings, was yesterday composed of broadly the same combative elements as it was before the election.
Every two years, voters have the power to "throw the bums out" from the House of Representatives (only one-third of the Senate is renewed in congressional elections). This year, despite two years of unprecedented political dysfunction and despite congressional approval ratings falling to their lowest levels in history, they weren't.
With votes across the country still being counted, the fight reignited as House Republicans fought off challenges from Democrats, who declared "the end of the Tea Party" – the influential ultra-conservative Republican movement – before the results had even started coming in. Speaker John Boehner said he saw no reason to change course and that the President had "no mandate for raising tax rates" on the American people.
In the Senate, the Democrats had been likely to improve on their 53-47 edge, but without reaching the "magic" 60-seat majority which can stave off damaging filibusters and push through meaningful changes.
In an editorial yesterday, The Wall Street Journal noted that the Republicans held the House comfortably, "so their agenda was hardly repudiated". It went on: "The two sides will have to reach some compromise on the tax cliff, the spending sequester and the debt limit, but Speaker John Boehner can negotiate knowing he has as much of a mandate as the President."
So Mr Obama's hands will continue to be tied in governing the country. Having pledged to pass the so-called Dream Act on immigration reform to help the country's surging Hispanic community, he was forced to bypass Congress and issued an executive order to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants to shore up the Latino vote. In the dying days of the campaign, he again pledged support for the Dream Act, but activists in the Hispanic community know that without congressional support, that dream will die. So America, and Mr Obama – despite his campaign motto "Forward" – are stuck with the status quo.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Hacking Trial: Rebekah Brooks, Raisa and a new twist in the saga of a horse fit for a Prime Minister
Israel-Gaza conflict: Palestinian death toll now exceeds 500 – but Israel fights on
Income tax league: Revealed - the UK towns where people pay the most and least tax
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire