Wrong: There Will Be A Mandate From This Election And It's Going To Severely Damage The Budget
The common wisdom is that the popular vote will be so close on Tuesday that no one who is elected will be able to claim a mandate to do anything.
It may, in fact, be the truth: The U.S. is so split on anything having to do with the budget and that split may be so obvious in the election results that that no one in the White House, House or Senate should see any message in the voting about how things should change on the budget.
But "truth" will not be the most relevant factor. In fact, the close election results and what now appears to be a White House and Congress in 2013-2014 that will look remarkably similar to the ones that existed in 2011-2012 will be taken as an indication that no one should do anything different from what they've been doing the past two years.
In other words, obstruction and unwillingness to compromise will continue to be the orders of the day.
1. The House GOP leadership and rank and file are virtually certain to say that the continued Republican majority is a clear message that their strategy on the budget of the past two years has been applauded by the voters. The GOP members that are defeated -- probably about 10 -- will be attributed to redistricting and weak local candidates and not to a rejection of the Republican positions on the budget.
2. Senate Democrats are likely to crow about keeping a majority in the Senate even if, as seems likely, it's smaller in the next Congress than it was in the last. The leadership almost certainly will call it a victory given that a year ago the GOP was expected to take over the Senate and the Dems had more seats to defend.
3. House Democrats will boast about the number of seats they pick up and claim that as support for their opposition to what the GOP tried to do the past two years on taxing and spending. They will especially attribute it to a rejection of the Ryan budget plan if then Romney-Ryan ticket is defeated.
4. Senate Republicans will say the same as House Democrats: The fact that there will be more of them next year than there were last will be called a victory and validation of their filibuster-anything-that-moves strategy.
In other words, as far as the budget is concerned, the mandate coming from the election will be that the stalemates, down-to-the-wire deadlines and a lack of compromise should continue.