‘Lame duck’ period won’t push Congress

With the Republican party gaining control over the House of Representatives, the question of where the Democratic Party stands over the next few years is still up in the air.

Leading up to the election, political science professor Michael Krassa said that Democrats will be compelled to appeal more to the public’s eye than they have been since President Obama’s election.

The latest results of midterm elections show Republicans picking up at least 60 seats in the House, placing them well over the 218 seats needed for a majority. While the Democrats still have a slim majority in the Senate, they have lost control of the legislative branch.

But Krassa says that the loss of this legislative power is more likely to affect President Obama’s policies than the Democratic Party as a whole.

“Without majorities, he knows there are certain things he couldn’t get passed, so he won’t try for things like the healthcare plan,” Krassa said.

In losing this majority, Krassa said, Obama will have to adjust how he presents his policies to the public if he wants to run for re-election in 2012.

“People don’t know what he’s done, or why he’s done it,” Krassa said. “And I think that hurts him more than anything else.”

In particular, Krassa noted how the tax cuts for 95 percent of working families have gone nearly unnoticed by the American people.

“It’s the largest tax cut in history, but only 8 percent of the population knows it,” Krassa said. “If he wants to run again, he’s going to have to make sure people know things like that.”

Yet Republican candidates and commentators have long voiced concerns that these 60-odd Democrats, who were just voted out of office, will attempt to push through controversial legislation before their seats are replaced on January 3, 2011, or during what is known as a “lame duck” period.

But according to Krassa, history says otherwise.

“Democrats have typically not taken advantage of that (period),” Krassa said.

He said that when Democrats lost Congress after mid-term elections during Clinton’s administration, they avoided passing major legislation. Krassa said he sees it as especially unlikely for the Democrats ending their term to take advantage of the lame duck period.

“They’re not willing to take that role and push it through,” Krassa said. “They’ve been a passive Congress.”

After the elections, Krassa said that the results for Congress show a diminishing number of moderate Democrats.

“The Republicans have never had a problem securing very high party loyalty, but the Democrats have accepted people into their party even if they didn’t agree completely,” Krassa said in an e-mail.

“But those people are gone. The Democratic Party no longer will have to have moderate views to get Blue Dogs on board because there are no more Blue Dogs.”