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 Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Royal baby: Live updates as the wait continues for Duchess of Cambridge's second child
Hermann Goering's daughter fails to reclaim items looted by Nazi deputy during WWII
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...