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So, the midterms are finally over. For months, those of us who like to watch American politics were expecting an epic to the death struggle that would vindicate the winner and devastate the loser.
But, as the Fates would have it, that is not what happened. At the time this article was written, the Democrats held 225 seats in the House of Representatives compared to the Republicans 197 seats (with thirteen seats still to be decided). And in the Senate, the Republicans held 51 seats to the Democrats 44 (with two seats being held by other parties and with four still undecided).
What we got was less an Alien versus Predator fight to the death and something more akin to two schoolboys getting into a schoolyard brawl with each claiming victory because they’d managed to bloody the other’s nose.
For months we’d been told that the Democrats would end up dominating both the House of Representatives and the Senate as the American people voiced their disapproval of the Trump Presidency. But that didn’t happen either. The Republicans may have lost their majority in the House of Representatives (and, indeed, many moderate Republicans did not do so well), they managed to gain a definitive majority in the Senate.
As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary put it: “anybody that was anticipating a blue wave tonight’s not going to get it.”
Several factors played a role in determining the outcome of the election.
The first thing to note is that the results of the election were not a signal of approval for far-left Democratic policies. It was moderate Democrats who won seats, not radically progressive ones. This would suggest that as many Americans reject radical identity politics as those who feel dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency. And it would suggest that the Democrat’s best strategy for winning the next Presidential election is to put forward a moderate candidate with a moderate platform.
The second thing to note is that the Republican’s triumph in the Senate had as much do with demographics as it did with politics. The electoral map made Democratic Senate seats more vulnerable than Republican ones. That said, however, it also turns out that the Democrats failed to take advantage of an advantageous news cycle. Had they nominated more moderate candidates rather than radically progressive ones they would have found themselves a lot more successful.
The third thing to note is that voter motivation played an enormous role in determining the outcome of the election. One of the reasons the Republicans lost the House of Representatives was because the Democrats were more motivated to vote than they were.
Actually, this was recognised early on. Bill Stepien, the political director for the White House, urged President Trump to motivate his base by making the election a referendum on his own performance. Clearly, Stepien recognised that President Trump has a special talent for rallying his supporters. And, as the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro noted, every district Trump visited ended up voting Republican.
The fourth things to note is that the Democrats managed to do better in the suburbs than the Republicans did. The Democrats managed to win suburbs all the way from the eastern seaboard to Nevada and even managed to expand into Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Richmond. As Liesl Hickey, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014, said “Republicans have lost the suburbs. I don’t know if they’ve lost them forever, but we’ve definitely lost them for now.”
That the outcome of the midterms will have political implications should be obvious to everyone. On the negative side, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will make it difficult for the Republicans to enact their legislative agenda over the next two years. It puts Trump’s immigration and economic policies in danger. It puts his administration’s goal to build a border wall, deregulate business, and cut taxes in jeopardy.
But, on the more positive side, however, the outcome of the midterms may inspire more transparency from the Executive as President Trump negotiates trade deals with Japan and the European Union. And as much a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives puts the Republican agenda in jeopardy, a Republican-controlled Senate creates a roadblock for the progressive agenda indicative in the Democrat’s more radical policies.
And there are the long-term implication, as well. The Republican’s control of the Senate will make it difficult for the Democrat’s to gain control over it in 2020. However, it also revealed the necessity for the Republican Party to expand its conservative base, especially in lieu of the 2020 Presidential election. In the 2000, 2004, and 2016 Presidential elections, a switch of only 150,000 votes would have nullified all of them.
The midterm election resulted in a victory for neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It did not deliver the much-prophesied blue wave for the Democrats and it didn’t allow the Republicans to retain control of Congress. What the midterms produced was a balanced, moderate Congress. The manner in which people choose to interpret the results of this election will depend largely upon their political orientation. Both Democrats and Republicans have the choice to see the results as either a triumph or a defeat. And exactly how they react will determine how well their party does at the next Presidential election.
Who knows what will happen at the next Presidential election. Two years can be a lifetime in politics.
Moore had previously garnered notoriety for his actions as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court. In 2003, he was temporarily removed from his position after he refused to remove the Ten Commandments from Alabama’s State Capitol building. Moore was reappointed to the position in 2013, only to be suspended in 2015 for refusing to enforce the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to legally recognise same-sex unions.
Moore’s victory has caused alarm among members of the mainstream media. Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball, referred to the Republican candidate as a ‘wild man’:
“It’s like your party is losing seats for moderate. Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania just quits, Bob Corker just quits —they are not comfortable in the party anymore, these guys. And all of a sudden a guy like Roy Moore feels comfortable. He is part of the Republican party now. These other guys don’t feel like they are. Moderates or people who we used to call mainstream Republicans are quitting. The wild people are coming on board.”
Similarly, the host of MSNBC’s Deadline, Nicole Wallace, also expressed her displeasure at Moore’s victory:
“I guess the question is though, John — is anyone in the Senate, any Republicans going to say, ‘I don’t want to be in the same party as Roy Moore. I’m not going to be for him. I’m not endorsing him. I’m not backing him because that could save the Republican. You may lose a seat, but you might save the Republican Party.”
President Trump unleashed a new plan for tax reform in a speech at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
The plans are the product of discussions between White House Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, the House Ways and Means Chairman, Kevin Brady, the Senate Finance Chairman, Orrin Hatch, House Speaker, Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and White House economic policy chief, Gary Cohn. Their purpose will be to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, and engender economic recovery by broadening the tax base, closing loopholes, and fostering growth.
According to a press release by the Treasury Department, the reforms will mean that less of the earnings of middle-class families will be subject to Federal income tax, and will reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three: 12%, 25%, and 35%. It will also increase child tax credits and repeal the death tax and alternative minimum tax.
For business, the reforms seek to reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% and limit the taxation imposed on small and family-based businesses operating as sole proprietorships and small businesses corporations to 25%.
“This has been a long time coming. Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. Today, we are taking the next step to liberate America from our broken tax code.”
Similarly, the House Freedom Caucus, which is comprised of Congress’ most conservative members, said in a statement:
“President Trump has delivered a forward-looking tax reform framework that will let hard-working Americans keep more of their money, simplify our system, end carve-outs for special interests, and will help make our businesses competitive abroad. The Freedom Caucus looks forward to sending a final bill based on this framework to President Trump’s desk as soon as possible.”
President Trump stated Wednesday that he had made a decision concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal. In an unusual twist, however, the President refused to announce what it was.
White House National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, has refused to comment on whether President Trump planned to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. McMaster told NBC’s Today show:
“I’m not saying anything yet about it, but when the announcement is made, it will fit into a fundamentally sound and broad strategy aimed at addressing Iran’s destabilizing behaviour and prioritizing protecting American vital interests.”
Seven Democrat senators have written to President Trump demanding evidence that Iran had violated the agreement by October 6th, the certification deadline. They wrote:
“If you are aware of any information that would suggest that Iran is no longer complying or that would lead the president to conclude that the continued suspension of sanctions is no longer in the vital national security interests of the United States, we request that you provide a written report containing such information.”
Similarly, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has expressed the opinion that the US should remain in the deal, despite opposing it two years ago. The senator stated in an interview Wednesday that he believed the Iranians had been complying with the terms of the deal and that the Trump Administration should be focused on curtailing Iran’s ballistic missile program. Paul told Politico:
“Most of the complaints about Iran don’t have anything to do with the agreement. They complain about ballistic missiles and other things, but that’s not part of the agreement. I think while the agreement’s not perfect, my main concern has always been compliance. But if they’re complying with it, I think we should stay in it.”
A decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal does have its supporters, however. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, commented that the Iraq Nuclear Deal had been ineffectual in safeguarding against Iran’s growing power. Macron stated:
“We need the 2015 accord. Is this accord enough? It is not, given the growing pressure that Iran is applying in the region.”
Similarly, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has stated that Iran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile test, and its other non-military action undermined efforts to create stability in the Middle East. Tillerson stated on Wednesday night:
“Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed we have seen anything but a more peaceful, stable region. That’s why we talk about Iran defaulting on these expectations because those expectations clearly have not been met.”
Senate majority leader, the Republic Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, is planning to introduce a bill, to the US Senate next week. The bill, nicknamed ‘Graham-Cassidy, will represent the Republican’s latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The bill is named after the bill’s sponsors: the Republican Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, and the Republican Senator from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy. Republicans are under pressure to get the bill passed before the opportunity to pass it with a simple majority expires with the Reconciliation Bill on September 30th.
The objective of the Graham-Cassidy Bill is to abolish individual and employer insurance mandates and to increase the power of state governors to veto certain regulation in their state. Along with individual and employer mandate, it will eliminate:
- Medicaid expansion
- Cost-sharing subsidies
- Tax credits
And will make changes to:
- Traditional Medicaid
- Essential health benefits
- Price restrictions on older Americans
- Health savings account.
Under the Graham-Cassidy, Bill states will receive their Medicaid funding through block grants. This change will put an end to the Obamacare’s Medicaid program where states could have ninety-percent of their funding for new beneficiaries subsidized by Washington. This encouraged the states to expand their Medicaid programs to include individuals and families earning up to 138% of the Federal poverty level.
Under this new system, southern states that did not expand their Medicaid programs stand to receive more federal funding. Furthermore, the bill will also give greater power to the states by allowing them to spend their funding as they see fit.
The Department of Justice has filed a brief on Thursday on behalf of baker, Jack Phillips.
Phillips was found to have violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws after he refused to bake a cake for Charlie Craig’s and David Mullin’s “wedding” in 2012. Phillips had argued that baking a cake for gay wedding violated his religious beliefs.
The Justice Department has concurred, stating that the cakes he produces constitute a form of expression and that he should not be compelled to use his talents to express support for something he does not believe in. Acting Solicitor General, wrote in the legal brief:
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has responded to the move by calling it “shocking.” Similarly, Democratic Senator for California, Kamala Harris, tweeted:
“Shame on the Justice Department for siding with discrimination. It has no place in our society.”
It is refreshing to see a Justice Department that is committed to protecting both free markets and the religious liberties of the American people. For too long, the gay rights lobby has been able to intimidate those who do not share their views. This decision represents a Justice Department and an administration that is committed to protecting everyone’s rights and liberties, not just the imaginary rights of an outspoken minority.