Gridlock awaits in US Congress
AFP - No matter who has control of the US Congress after the November 7 elections, gridlock will be the watchword, experts say, as legislative efforts get sidelined in the swirl of activity ahead of the 2008 presidential race.
"I think that Congress will be basically frozen for the next two years, as we begin to fight out the issue of who should be in the White House in (January) 2009," said Paul Light, a professor at New York University.
"We can expect Democrats and Republicans to begin to fashion 2008 campaign agendas, and there would be no incentive to cooperate on any issues that might have an effect on the 2008 race," Light said.
US voters are set to elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 33 of 100 senators on Tuesday. Polls have shown Democrats with a significant edge amid the unpopular war in Iraq championed by unpopular Republican President George W. Bush.
Whatever the outcome, Light said that then "both parties will have to decide is there is a value on compromise" in order to legislate.
But "2008 is the dominant force, even in this campaign; I don't think that much will happen until after 2008," he added.
In practical terms, if Democrats adopt a very ideological agenda, they face tough sledding and the likelihood of a presidential veto -- and will likely be bereft of the two-thirds majority needed to override one.
"The Democrats might find that it's a much more difficult position for them," said University of New Hampshire professor David Corbin.
"Are they expecting to enact legislative change? Are they able to achieve any results? No, because they don't get control over what doesn't get vetoed," Corbin said. "They won't have the final means to achieve their policy objectives."
But the Democrats would get the chance to set the political agenda and launch a flurry of investigations of alleged wrongdoing, of which it accuses the administration -- which, in turn, is a fine way to shape the 2008 presidential race debate.
Even if Bush's Republicans manage to keep their upper hand in Congress, "they are running against the clock," warned Corbin. "They haven't been that effective at a program and satisfying their base over the last six years, so they have to be very careful about what they try to get through.
"They might try to focus on one or two things, try to have some crowning achievement," he added, suggesting that thornier issues may be unlikely to pass.
Republicans also will distance themselves more than ever from Bush to bolster their own chances of re-election.
A financial analyst at DWS Scudder, Robert Froelich, on Monday told clients of three hypotheses -- if the Democrats sweep: gridlock. If they take the House but not the Senate: gridlock. If the Republicans keep their majorities: gridlock.
For investors, that is not bad, Froelich said, adding: "On Wall Street, 'no news is good news' from the political front."
Last edited by motivez; 11-03-2006 at 03:53 AM..